ICGA: Don’t count on new farm bill in 2013

The March 1 sequester, an odd name for a way to cut government spending, will mean a $25 million chop from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget.

Amanda Taylor, of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, told farmers Wednesday at the Iowa Corn Crop Fair at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge she is “not optimistic getting a five-year farm bill approved this year.”

The 2012 bill was extended through September as part of the so-called fiscal cliff deal, along with the March 1 sequester.

The extension was better than nothing, but not ideal, she said. “Extensions are not financially smart and give no direction for farmers.”

Taylor said that since the 2012 elections kept the political divisions in Washington at status quo, and with the $25 million in USDA budget cuts, “this will make passing a farm bill this year nearly impossible.”

She said items threatened on the next farm bill are direct payments and federal crop insurance subsidies for farmers. She said the ICGA and other commodity groups are trying to educate lawmakers on the importance of these programs for the nation’s food producers.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday that the mandatory cuts would furlough federal meat inspectors, which would also close meat processing plants for as long as two weeks.

Other furloughs are also in the future for all federal government office workers.