Almost two months later and we’re still talking about it. It took more than two years to get the darn thing passed, and even after it passes, we’re still talking about how good or bad it is.
That’s right, I’m talking about the farm bill.
Even after it finally cleared the House and Senate, open season on the 2014 farm bill continued, with letters to the editor, horribly lopsided political cartoons and talking heads bashing the bill on every channel.
Mostly, they’re complaining that the bill still isn’t good enough and will cost more than originally projected.
According to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), the farm bill’s Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program will cost more than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted before the farm bill became law. And that report has everyone talking.
FAPRI’s figures are based on their predicted drop in commodity prices over the next ten years. FAPRI predicts PLC payments will increase in the coming years while ARC payments will start larger, but drop significantly after the first few years, leading to an $11 billion gap in the CBO’s projected cost and FAPRI’s.
Still, if the 2008 farm bill had been continued rather than a new farm bill being implemented, costs could be even higher due to payments based on old farm programs with the same falling commodity prices and an overall drop in net farm income.
In fact, the 2014 farm bill contains many reforms including the elimination of direct payments to farmers, which will save taxpayers $24 billion over the next ten years. The bill does not change program eligibility for nutrition assistance. Nor does the bill cut the current level of nutrition benefits for the approximately two million men, women and children in Illinois who need such assistance.
And it’s important to consider one more important factor: we can guess all we want, but no one knows for sure what commodity prices will be this year, let alone in ten years.
Bottom line, the farm bill helps farmers plan for the future and provides consumers with stable food prices. That’s something we should all be able to get behind.