It’s More About Food Stamps Than Food

corn

The sliding price of corn, with a gross farm value of $602 million in Louisiana, is making many in the Bayou State industry nervous as the Farm Bill's expiration date approaches. Other farmers of cash crops are worried as well.

Farm Bill Comes Down To Food Stamps Again

Most folks don't realize that what's included in the federal Farm Bill has the potential to touch every corner and affect practically all aspects of Louisiana, from the cornfields in the north and sugar cane in the south to insurance for all of the crops in between.

But just like last year, the only thing that really matters are food stamps. Congress couldn't come to an agreement in 2012 on a new Farm Bill because the House wanted to cut more from the food stamp program than the Senate, so they simply extended by 12 months the entire bill that was slated to expire Oct. 1.

Today, Congress seems no closer to a Farm Bill agreement than a year ago and the same expiration date is approaching. Should Congress allow the Farm Bill to expire, federal law would revert back to 1949 guidelines effective Jan. 1, which would in turn force prices for milk and other commodities to skyrocket.

The House's next move involves voting on a proposal to cut as much as $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next decade, although it's expected that the vote will only lead to conference negotiations with the Senate, which has already passed a Farm Bill that cuts food stamps by $4 billion.

Many analysts are already predicting another one-year extension, with hopes that a new five-year Farm Bill can be brokered by the end of the year. Meanwhile, some high-ranking officials like Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are more optimistic, declaring, "There is no reason not to get this done."

To Extend Or Not To Extend?

The political posturing on the Farm Bill puts Louisiana's House delegation in the hot seat. Earlier this summer, the last House version, which failed, created interesting coalitions with its proposed $20 billion cut to the food stamp program.

Reps. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, voted against it because the bill didn't cut food stamps enough, while Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, did the same because the targeted reduction was too much. Voting to pass the bill then were Reps. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman; Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette; and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

As it stands now, both the House and Senate seem to agree on eliminating $4.5 billion in direct cash payments to farmers and replacing that with a crop insurance program. Both also seem to be offering protections for rice and sugar, which had gross farm values in Louisiana last year of $371 million and $586 million, respectively, according to the LSU AgCenter.

International trade rules are causing soybean farmers, valued at $700 million in Louisiana last year, to question some of the planting decisions Congress is making. Plus, the sliding price of corn, valued at $602 million in 2012, is making many in the Bayou State industry nervous as the Farm Bill's expiration date approaches.

A program for wetland restoration hangs in the balance, too. In its two decades of existence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetlands Reserve Program has restored more than 2.6 million acres of wetlands habitat across the nation. If there's no Farm Bill, the program will vanish.

While an extension will surely soothe nerves, state Agriculture Commission Mike Strain has said that the industry needs the stability of the usual five-year Farm Bill. Without it, banks might start second guessing on loans and farmers could cut back on new investments.

Congressman Collin C. Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat who serves as the ranking member of the  House Agriculture Committee, said he's worried that the controversial food stamp vote will do nothing to advance the overall debate. "Even if this bill is defeated, as it should be, I worry the debate will eliminate any remaining goodwill needed to pass a farm bill," he said.

Regardless of what happens, Congress has scheduled its next recess to begin Sept. 20, just 10 days before the Farm Bill expires.

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 19, 2019    |    Issue 179 

Issue 1196

LaPolitics Weekly B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,196  

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 12, 2019    |    Issue 178 

Issue 1195

By   JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS Issue 1,195                        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 26, 2019   |

Issue 1194

B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,194        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 19, 2019

POD: Donelon, Disco & the Dividends of Defeat

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/donelon-disco-the-dividends-of-defeat  In the latest episode of The LaPolitics Report podcast,

Issue 1,193

Issue 1,193 - February 14, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Dollars & Question Marks Abraham’s ante, Gumbo coming

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

ROLL CALL St. Tammany emerges at center of gubernatorial campaign… John Gallagher talks 2019 municipal races… A look back at the

Issue 1192

Issue 1192 - February 7, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Keeping Their Powder Dry GOP wants to see movement in

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

February 5, 2019 — Issue No. 174 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch

Son of a Preacher Man: Bob Mann Speaks

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/son-of-a-preacher-man-bob-mann-speaks For our latest episode of The LaPolitics

Issue 1191 – Washington Mardi Gras

By Jeremy Alford and Mitch Rabalais WMG 2019! A Candidate Invasion, Party-vators & 3,000 Politicos You may have fun back

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker,Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates January 29, 2019 - Issue No. 173 By Jeremy Alford

CAPITOL GAINS: The Race for Commissioner

https://vimeo.com/312861344 If there's a sleeper race on the 2019 statewide ballot this fall, it could potentially be the election for

Bourbon, Basketball and Budgets: F. King Alexander Speaks

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/bourbon-basketball-and-budgets-f-king-alexander-speaks For the 60th episode of The LaPolitics Report

CAPITOL GAINS: Cajun Swing-Voters, a Northern Split & the Race for Governor

We're mapping Louisiana's race for governor (literally) in this episode of Capitol Gains. With contenders gobbling turf in the north and

WHERE DAT? (Part One of Two)

How Trent Lott, NASA & the Need for Profits Collided to Move the Saints to Mississippi By the time that the National Football League

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

* * * * *   S P E C I A L   H O L I D A Y   I S S U E   * * * * * The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille &

SPONSORED: Fostering A Healthier Community One Step At A Time

TPG recently attended the Acadiana Culture of Health Summit, an event that brought together healthcare professionals, local leaders, and

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates December 11, 2018 / Issue No. 168 By MITCH RABALAIS

SPONSORED: Cheniere Energy Makes A Generous Donation In New Apprenticeship Program

The new program will launch in January 2019, and eligible students will take what they have learned in SOWELA’s classrooms and apply it to

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

  ALERT: TO ALL VOTING ADULTS & PEOPLE WITH HEART CONDITIONS OR YOUNG CHILDREN…. THE SILLY SEASON IS UPON US… THERE IS NOWHERE

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 27, 2018 — Issue No. 166 By: Mitch Rabalais