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New Mexico Farmers Still Waiting On a Farm Bill

PHOTO: TBoth the U-S House and Senate are back to work, and the Farm Bill is tops on the "to-do" list. Uncertainty about crop insurance is a concern in New Mexico. Photo courtesy U-S Department of Agriculture.
PHOTO: TBoth the U-S House and Senate are back to work, and the Farm Bill is tops on the "to-do" list. Uncertainty about crop insurance is a concern in New Mexico. Photo courtesy U-S Department of Agriculture.
January 9, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Both the U.S. House and Senate are back to work, and the Farm Bill is tops on their "to-do" list. The last five-year Farm Bill expired at the end of September, and although the House and Senate have passed new bills, they have yet to be reconciled.

Kent Peppler, president, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, said political gridlock in the nation's capital is causing economic uncertainty for all kinds of people in New Mexico.

"Seventy to 80 percent of the Farm Bill is based around the nutrition, which not only helps nutrition programs, which not only affects farm people, but it also affects urban people," Peppler said.

One point of contention is how much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The Senate approved $4 billion in SNAP cuts, while the House wants a $39 billion cut over 10 years. There are reports that a potential compromise could trim $8 billion dollars from SNAP within a decade.

Peppler said the Farm Bill delay is hurting the economy in New Mexico and much of the nation. One of the biggest challenges facing farmers is the uncertainly of the Crop Insurance program, he asserted.

"Crop insurance in the modern Farm Bill is the basis of a safety net," he explained. "Bankers and farmers alike need to know where they are at, so crop insurance is very important."

Peppler said he has heard from various lawmakers that Congress seems to be moving closer to ironing out differences between the two versions of the bill.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM