The farm bill that has been in place for the last five years will be extended at least another nine months as part of a last minute provision under congress’s fiscal cliff package. Instead of a new five-year bill, certain aspects of the old bill will continue until September, like direct subsidies and the food assistance program, SNAP. The extension also offers assistance, including retroactively to last September, for certain programs many Wyomingites hold dear. These include the EQIP land conservation program that helps ranchers, direct disaster payments for loss of forage and livestock during natural disasters, agricultural research, and the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which provides funding for conservation easement.
Wyoming Stockgrowers Executive Vice President Jim Magagna says he has mixed feelings about the stop-gap legislation.
“In the big picture, we’re disappointed that congress just seemed unable to come together and pass a new farm bill,” says Magagna, “In terms of the short term, of some assistance to help us move forward between now and September, there’s certainly some satisfaction that they at least were able to finally extend the 2012 farm bill and do so retroactively for some of these programs.”
He says he still hopes congress can come together to create a new plan soon.
“You know, in agriculture, we deal with a lot of things that we can’t predict from day to day,” says Magagna, “the weather being at the top of that list, markets being number two. So when you can’t have any certainty about the government programs that may affect you, that’s an uncertainty that’s very difficult to live with.”
MaGagna says that anyone interested in learning more about their program eligibility should contact their local farm service agency office.