Congress shifts focus to expired farm bill

By WEEK Producer

Congress shifts focus to expired farm bill

October 21, 2013 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 4:36 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the government shutdown in the rear view mirror, Congress is moving on to what could be the next crisis our nation experiences, an expired farm bill.

Both the House and Senate have proposed transitioning to an insurance program and eliminating up front payments designed to protect farmers from unexpected losses.

Agricultural Economist Jeffrey O’Hara said those subsidies help also consumers by stabilizing what is at the market.

“Prices are going to move but it insures that prices are at a reasonably low level and are affordable for consumers,” O’Hara said.

Conservative tax groups disagree, saying the government offers too much assistance to farmers at the consumers’ expense.

“It is a gold plated program where tax payers end up covering almost two-thirds of the cost for farmers who want to buy insurance,” said Joshua Sewell, senior analyst for Taxpayers for Common Sense.

If something does not get passed by January, the price of commodities will go up starting with dairy.

Leaders in the House and Senate are expected to have their first serious negotiations about the farm bill next week.

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