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25 million Blacks, Latinos missing from voter databases; major news organizations urge Biden and Trump to commit to presidential debates; NM gun-control advocates praise federal rule closing 'gun show loophole; Arkansas group raising awareness during Black Maternal Health Week.

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House Republicans want citizenship proof for federal election voting, under White House pressure Israel shows restraint after Iran's attack and Trump's hush money trial starts.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

WI ag groups in 'wait-and-see mode' on Farm Bill

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Wednesday, September 27, 2023   

The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30 and with a looming government shutdown, reauthorization does not appear imminent.

Wisconsin farm groups say most of the effects would not be felt right away, but there is still uncertainty in the air. The Farm Bill, which is updated every five years, covers a range of agriculture policies like crop insurance, and funds government food assistance.

Michelle Ramirez-White, policy coordinator for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said December and January are the more concerning deadlines if action does not materialize. In the meantime, she said they will keep fighting for provisions to establish market fairness within agriculture.

"We just see these issues of competition needing to be addressed in a more holistic and composite way," Ramirez-White contended.

As for timelines, she warned dairy prices would see an upheaval if a new bill is not approved by the end of this year. Ag experts said it would be a major blow to consumers and exports. The Farm Bill has generally enjoyed bipartisan support, but some GOP House members are pushing hard for spending cuts, complicating spending talks, including for agriculture.

Margaret Krome, policy program director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, said they have a mixed outlook on the state of the Farm Bill. She noted thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, some key conservation programs are reauthorized for several years. Other programs, such as providing grants to farmers to bring their products to market, would at least still operate on autopilot.

"They will, maybe not be all able to sign contracts, but they will be able to continue to function up until the end of December," Krome pointed out. "But we are watching to make sure that they get implemented properly."

Krome added the Institute is worried about talks in Congress to essentially boost commodity payouts for a limited group of farmers elsewhere in the country. She warned advancing the proposal would come at the expense of broader conservation funding.

Disclosure: The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Rural/Farming, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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