Farm Bill Needs to Get Done Quickly

Farm policy expert discusses reasons to finish Farm Bill fast.

Jim Wiesmeyer, a farm policy expert, talked to the American Farm Bureau Federation's 89th annual convention Sunday about the potential problems of not finalizing a new farm bill in the near future. He says a shrinking budget baseline and growing national deficit are obstacles and issues such as Social Security, health care and tax cuts could push the Farm Bill to the back burner.

The administration has problems with both the House and Senate versions that were passed late last year, and Wiesmeyer says President Bush has followed through on previous veto threats.

According to Wiesmeyer, Congress will have to choose where to trim to meet across-the-board budget cuts. He expects possible reductions to direct payments, crop insurance and disaster programs.

At the AFBF convention, Wiesmeyer also talked about advanced biofuels, World Trade Organization challenges to U.S. farm policy and the rising cost of food as issues that will garner a lot of interest this year.

"You will hear from government analysts about why food prices are going up," Wiesemeyer said. "Food price inflation will become an increasing issue. Pressure for policy change will grow with every up tick on the commodity chart."

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