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Farm bill talks to ramp up

(CIFN file photo)

CHAMPAIGN – Expect some difficult and partisan debating among lawmakers when it’s time to discuss the next farm bill.

The 2018 farm bill will be written using a baseline estimate of what the various programs will spend, according to Jonathan Coppess, clinical assistant professor of law and policy at the University of Illinois.

“We expect some pretty significant budget pressures to remain on farm program spending,” Coppess explained.

Coppess expects the farm bill debate to begin sometime in the next year. No one knows what kind of policy issues will be included or whether there will be fixes, changes or brand new ideas in the next bill.

The ARC program is expected to spend less in the coming years and that will impact what is available for Congress. There are plenty of politics involved with writing a farm bill. We saw budget pressure put stress on the coalition with the 2014 bill.

“One of the things we are watching at this stage is sort of what that might mean as we lead into the debate for the next farm bill,” Coppess said.

The current farm bill is written to expire in 2018. Ideally, the next farm bill would fall into place by September of that year but there could be extensions requested.

One thing is certain since the last bill was approved: corn, soybean, wheat and cotton prices have all come down. Coppess notes the revenue programs were all designed for short-term assistance to farmers. Producers shouldn’t get their hopes up regarding future ARC-County payments.

“We do not expect large or consistent payments for the next couple of years for the ARC programs,” Coppess stated.

Coppess was among the speakers at the University of Illinois Farm Economics Summit which was held at various locations across the state during December.

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