Eastern Iowans wait on Washington to make Farm Bill decision - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowans wait on Washington to make Farm Bill decision


Dustin Sage farms with his dad outside of Dunkerton. He said he's looking for rain for his crops, but he's also looking for Washington to make a decision.

"Trying to keep my sanity this year," Sage said. "But, all things considered, we're doing all right compared to some people."

The delay in the Farm Bill has made farmers like Sage uncertain about the future.

"If there is anything you need in agriculture, it's long-term planning," said U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. "Having a five-year Farm Bill gives you five years to plan ahead."

Farmers said they are most uncertain about funding for crop insurance and the conservation reserve program.

"For the most part, in most farmers' day-to-day life, it's not the be-all and end-all that it once was when we had very low grain prices," said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "But it's still important to get on with it and get it done and have the certainty of that program."

About 80 percent of the bill pertains to the food stamp assistance program, but earlier this month the United States House of Representatives passed a version of the bill without that program.

It's a decision U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack doesn't agree with. 

"If they know their constituents are going to receive some assistance when they're struggling, that makes it more likely they're going to vote in favor of those farm programs," said Vilsack.

Vilsack says it's important to note that when food stamps are used at the grocery store, it benefits farmers.

"Fifteen cents of every food dollar that's spent at grocery stores goes ultimately to farmers through the supply chain," Vilsack said. "So if you're going to cut SNAP assistance or food stamp assistance, you're also going to cut farm income."

He says if income for farmers goes down, food prices will go up.

"Food prices have actually a really big link between government policies and the farm level, and ultimately the grocery shelf," said Sage.

Grassley thinks the bill will pass before the current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30.

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