Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM, has responded to Congress’ Farm Bill extension:
“While Congress worked on passing the fiscal cliff bill over the New Year holiday, those in the agriculture industry eagerly anticipated movement on the expired Farm Bill. A short-term extension of the bill blocks milk and bread prices from drastically increasing, but the state of the Farm Bill remains unfinished. Funding to many vital programs such as disaster assistance is suspended indefinitely. It is critical that we have a comprehensive, effective disaster program that protects our farmers and ranchers from droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.
“We must also restore research funding. Through agricultural research and development, America has led the world in innovation and productivity. Every public dollar spent on research and extension generates ten dollars in economic growth. If we are to double food production by 2030 to meet global population growth, America must invest in the science and technology of tomorrow.
“Conservation of our nation’s soil, water, and wetlands must also be a top priority. Sustainability of our ecosystem under continued pressure to produce more on less land with less water has never been more critical. On a positive note, the short-term extension suspends price support payments which would have required the United States Department of Agriculture to buy commodities such as milk and wheat at significantly higher prices than what the market currently supports. The measure will keep prices stable for the consumer, for now.
“The Farm Bill is now extended for only nine months as opposed to the five-year bill the Senate passed over the summer and which never went before the House for a vote. A more comprehensive bill is still needed. More changes are necessary to protect and facilitate commerce of the largest industry in America.”