December 18, 2014

MU policy analyst looks ahead to 2013 Farm Bill debate

The Director of the Food and Agricultural Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri says the fiscal cliff was at one time thought to be a driver that might get a Farm Bill done quickly. That didn’t happen, and now Pat Westhoff says the next deadline is several months away.

Director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute Pat Westhoff

Director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute Pat Westhoff

“It’s probably going to be some time in late spring, I would speculate now, before we’d ever get everything all put together for a final farm bill. There’s a chance we might approve a one-year extension of current provisions of some kind before that.”

Westhoff says there is one thing that could change in farm policy that would impact crops grown in 2013.

“Many people speculate there might be a cut in direct payments as a way to reduce the overall budgetary cost of farm programs, even absent an agreement about a longer-term farm bill.”

If direct payments are eliminated, Westhoff says something might take their place.

He says a lot of concern exists over crop insurance, but he says major cuts in that program are not likely.

“We are going to see the government costs to the crop insurance program for the current fiscal year. That will probably draw some attention and there may well be proposals to make cuts in that program, but if this year’s debate is any indication there is a lot of support for the crop insurance program in Congress and I would personally be surprised if there were major cuts made in that program.”

Westhoff notes, with the same lawmakers in place that were a part of the 2013 farm bill debate, many of the farm bill proposals will be very similar to what was discussed in 2012.