Shannon Bowers, Ozarks News Journal
FAIR GROVE, MO – After two years of debate in congress, President Obama signed the nearly one trillion dollar farm bill to law.
While this bill does come with an expensive price tag, one local beef farmer says the bill is a relief to all American farmers who have been struggling. For him, the bill provides some much needed stability.
“That was the driest I have ever seen it in my lifetime,” said farmer Tom Huff.
Missouri’s weather can be very unpredictable. When the drought of 2012 struck, many farmers from around the area had devastating losses. Without having a secure farm bill in place, farmers like Tom Huff were uncertain for the future of their farm.
“We originally had about 185 cows and we sold about 45 cows to get through the drought and it has been slow to try and build that back,” Huff said.
With this new legislation active, Tom and his family feel say they can slowly start regaining some of their previous losses.
“We now have a farm bill good for five years so we know what to expect in the way of farm programs for five years… the first thing will be, we will receive livestock disaster funds, we will receive something (we don’t know what yet) but the effects of that drought continue,” said Huff.
Since the bill is so new, he doesn’t know every way he will be affected but he is satisfied with the $6 billion dollars added to the crop insurance fund. If another drought does hit the Midwest, his cows will stay fed. However more importantly, he thinks the new farm bill will help feed other hungry mouths.
“One thing I think most people do not understand is that such a high percentage goes for nutrition programs. Yes, it’s called farm bill, but it’s more like a food bill. 79% of that cost goes to nutrition programs,” said Huff.
The bill does cut 1% in food stamps, mostly affecting those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. It does this by modifying food stamp eligibility. The bill also covers categories including conservation and commodity programs.
“Personally, I feel it should be called the food assurance bill because the whole intent of the farm bill is to insure an adequate and affordable supply of food for the country,” Huff said.
The new bill is expected to cut the federal budget deficit by $16 billion over the next decade according to New York Times. But perhaps more importantly, the farm bill helps farmers, like Tom, if another natural disaster strikes.