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SD Farmers Still Waiting For A New Farm Bill

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The country is one week into a government shutdown and just over a week from the debt ceiling deadline. But, in between these issues, is the Farm Bill and some South Dakotans say without an extended deal, the agricultural industry will be in big trouble on the first of the year.


It may not be surprising to hear that congress missed a deadline and it's not just a new fiscal budget. The extended 2008 farm bill official expired at the end of September and now farmers say they're in limbo.


Farmers rely on consistency. Farmers plant the bean. The bean grows. And now, like every fall before, mammoth combines sweep back and forth in fields across America to cash in on a year of hard work. But, such reliability isn't always found in the nation’s capital.


“I think they were close but then all of a sudden the budget battle comes up and we've got the debt ceiling battle coming up and agriculture and the Farm Bill is taking the back seat to that,” said Scott VanderWal.


The Farm Bill, a vital piece of legislation that keeps programs like crop insurance alive and well, expired.  And the president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, VanderWal, says farmers need a new 5 year deal and says without one, there could be drastic consequences.


“Then you end up with a situation where we have with energy where you are subject to the price swings and the supply swings that all are based on political happenings and upheavals around the world. And we don't want our food supply to be subject to that sort of thing,” added VanderWal.


He feels if the government shutdown and a debt ceiling weren't taking the spotlight in Washington DC, a Farm Bill could be agreed upon. 


“We're pretty close to an agreement on the farm program parts of things but it's the food and nutritional program that's holding it up at this point,” said VaderWal.


And with cuts to agricultural programs in proposed legislation, Vanderwal says a new Farm Bill could help the nation’s debt crisis.


“Agriculture is doing its part and in fact more than its part to alleviate the budget problems that are out there. And that's a part of what we've been saying. ‘Hey, we can help out with the budget. Just pass this farm bill and get it done, then we can move on,’” said VanderWal.


For farmers, the only movement is on their combines, knowing if new legislation is not signed by the end of the year; the consistency provided by the Farm Bill will be gone.


Both Senator John Thune and Representative Kristi Noem have reached out to Speaker of the House John Boehner to appoint congressmen to the House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee. Talks should begin by the end of the week.

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