The future of crop insurance and conservation programs for the Midwest is up for debate in Washington, as the farm bill reaches the floor of the Senate. The agriculture committees of both the Senate and the House passed new five-year bills last week and legislation is expected to make its way to the House floor soon.
The overarching theme this year is spending cuts—as with most federal programs. But how the two bodies trim down the farm bill differs. Nutrition programs will lose the most, with the House cutting more than the Senate.
Iowa State University economist Mark Edelman says the massive law remains vital to rural areas—and the decades-old alliance that hooks nutrition to farm policy helps connect producers and consumers.
“Agriculture needs urban America and urban America needs food and resources that are produced in rural America,” he says.
While the two chambers agree on that, how they will reconcile differences on conservation, renewable energy and farm payments could stretch the farm bill process well into summer.
The extension of the 2008 farm bill expires on September 30.