Ag Economist Expects Farm Bill to be Delayed

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By Clint Thompson

Ongoing Farm Bill discussions are not expected to lead to a resolution by the end of September, according to one economist.

Adam Rabinowitz, Alabama Extension economist

“There will not be a Farm Bill by the end of this month. I would be absolutely shocked if they could get anything done. We’ve still not seen a draft of anything coming out of committee. There’s just so many budget questions out there right now. It’s going to take a little while to get it done,” said Adam Rabinowitz, Alabama Extension economist.

The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that is renewed every five years. President Trump signed the current Farm Bill into law on Dec. 20, 2018. It is set to expire at the end of September.

As with most discussions on legislative issues, money remains the sticking point for leaders devising the Farm Bill, says Rabinowitz.

“We are talking about a Farm Bill that will probably be about $1.5 trillion. We’ve never seen a Farm Bill over a trillion dollars before. Even reaching that mark is substantial,” Rabinowitz said. “A large part of it is on the nutrition program. There’s debate about how much should be spent there. On the agriculture side there are safety net programs, crop insurance and some of those issues that are looking for some additional funding to improve those programs.”

The 2018 Farm Bill totaled $800 billion. The COVID pandemic caused a need for additional spending on nutrition programs. More people became eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as 85% of the Farm Bill is devoted to nutrition.

Rabinowitz said the target date to get the bill finalized is now the end of December, though that timeframe is even questionable. If a new Farm Bill is not finalized, an extension or continuation of the current bill can be expected and will continue into 2024.