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Some South Dakota farmers are unhappy with industrial ag getting conservation funds; Texas judge allows abortion in Cox case; Native tribes express concern over Nevada's clean energy projects.

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The Colorado Supreme Court weighs barring Trump from office, Georgia Republicans may be defying a federal judge with a Congressional map splitting a Black majority district and fake electors in Wisconsin finally agree Biden won there in 2020.

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Texas welcomes more visitors near Big Bend but locals worry the water won't last, those dependent on Colorado's Dolores River fear the same but have found common ground solutions, and a new film highlights historical healthcare challenges in rural Appalachia.

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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