Expiration of the 2008 farm bill and shutdown of the federal government, both of which occurred at midnight Monday, provides a double-barreled blast of political reality for farmers this fall.
“It’s a little bit difficult to separate the two,” Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, said in an interview Tuesday.
While Hill said most of the attention of farm organizations has been focused on the farm bill, the government shutdown is an additional concern. First, it diverts attention of Congress from the farm bill. Second, it means the closing of some USDA offices and a sudden lack of funding for a number of government programs.
Money for trade and research programs has been put on temporary hold, Hill said. And, there is still a question if farmers will get a final direct payment check this fall.
Organizations such as the U.S. Grains Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation could see funding issues if the shutdown lasts long, Hill said, because they have contracts with the government. USDA statistical analysis could also be affected.
And, conservation programs could see issues as well.
Add those issues to the already difficult farm-bill situation and farmers are frustrated, Hill said.
He said it was good news the House of Representatives voted over the past weekend to attach nutrition programs back onto the farm bill so a farm-bill conference committee can be formed. But, the House version still has only a three-year nutrition program and a five-year commodity program, meaning the two items would still be separated before the next farm-bill discussion.
That, he said, is unacceptable.
Iowa ag department handling questions during shutdown
DES MOINES — Iowa Department of Agriculture employees working in NRCS facilities will be working from alternate locations during the federal government shutdown.
They may be contacted through the ag department’s office in Des Moines, according to a news release.
Farmers with questions for state soil secretaries and state soil technicians may call 515-281-5258 for help.
All other areas of the department continue to operate and will continue to evaluate any further effects from the federal government shutdown, said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Norhey.
Farmers are frustrated with the situation, American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said in a statement issued Tuesday
He said Farm Bureau members are “deeply concerned over the political challenges that are making it next to impossible for Congress to reach a compromise on important legislation, while restoring fiscal order and setting a responsible course to get the federal budget back on track.
“Adding to our frustration, both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill would provide significant savings that could be applied toward reducing the federal deficit.”
With expiration of the farm bill extension, Stallman said farmers are uncertain about the safety net and risk-management tools for planning next year’s crop.
“It is past time for Congress to let these two (House and Senate ag) committees . . . work together in a bipartisan fashion to forge the best new farm bill possible in today’s tough political environment.”
Meanwhile, the CME Group issued a letter Tuesday to its customers regarding possible effects of the government shutdown on dairy and livestock contracts.
The letter, signed by Tim Andriesen, CME managing director, agricultural products, says “ . . . it’s possible that a prolonged shutdown of the federal government could have an impact on the settlement procedures of certain dairy and livestock products at CME Group.
“A prolonged shutdown of the federal government and furloughing of USDA staff could result in interruptions or gaps in reporting key agricultural pricing information from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
“As a result, we wanted you to be aware that settlement prices for certain CME dairy and livestock contracts, which are cash settled based on USDA data, could be impacted in the event of a prolonged shutdown of the agency and may require the exchange to modify the current settlement procedures of the following products.”
The list of contracts that might be affected include:
- Dairy — September 2013 Class III Milk, Class IV Milk, Butter, Whey, Cheese and Non-Fat Dry Milk futures and options
- Livestock — October 2013 Lean Hogs, Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle futures and options
Current procedures for the settlement of CME dairy and livestock futures are available at www.cmegroup.com/rulebook/CME/.
Customer inquiries may be directed to:
- David Lehman, managing director, Commodity Research and Product Development at 312-930-1875, email firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Jack Cook, director, Commodity Research & Product Development at 312-930-3295, email email@example.com; or
- Tom Clark, director, Commodity Products, at 312-930-4595, email firstname.lastname@example.org.