Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran isn't hesitant about saying that he doesn't have high hopes that we'll see a Farm Bill out of Congress before the ball drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
Speaking to the South Central Kansas Residue Alliance during their fall field day in Harper County on Sept. 5, Moran said that the division in the House of Representatives is so strong that he doesn't think the votes to pass a bill will materialize.
"There's one side that is refusing to vote for a Farm Bill on the principle that the government should not be involved and that prices should be market driven," he said. "Well, I agree that would be ideal. But our farmers compete globally and while they can compete with farmers anywhere they can't compete with foreign governments. And that's why our government has to be involved."
The other faction, he said, is concerned about food stamps and nutrition programs, which the bill that passed out of the House Agriculture Committee would cut significantly more than the bill that passed the U.S. Senate.
About 80% of the money in the Farm Bill pays for food stamps and nutrition programs and less than 10% actually goes to farmers, he said. That means that urban legislators who have a significant constituency concerned about those programs don't want to see them reduced.
"I think it is an impossible standoff," Moran said. "I don't see a bill passing before Sept. 30 when the current bill expires or in the Lame Duck session after the election."
He added that not passing a Farm Bill has big consequences in Kansas because disaster programs in the 2005 Farm Bill expired last year and those programs are the only source of relief for livestock producers facing huge losses because of drought.
"There is no crop insurance of livestock producers," he said. "The aid to livestock producers has expired and there is nothing out there to restore that except in the Senate-passed bill."
Moran said what seems likely to happen is an extension of the current bill with some kind of disaster relief package attached.