‘It’s frustrating’: Swisher County farmer shares concerns about Farm Bill delay

The 2018 Farm Bill expires Saturday, Sep. 30; lawmakers say the new one will not be passed by deadline.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 5:21 PM CDT
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KRESS, Texas (KCBD) - A Swisher County farmer is sharing his frustrations and concerns that the 2023 Farm Bill will not be passed by deadline.

Lawmakers say it is expected to be done by December, which is three months after the current one expires.

The Farm Bill is passed every five years, meaning the current one was passed in 2018 and expires on Saturday. With lawmakers still deliberating over what will be in the legislation, Barry Evans from Swisher County is nervous about how long it will take.

“People just continue to throw a monkey wrench in it and not get it done, that they will try to grind their own axes instead of looking at the big picture and see how important the Farm Bill is to agriculture and the nation,” Evans said.

Evans has been farming for 31 years. With how much the cost of production has increased over time, he said a new Farm Bill needs a good reference price.

“Our prices have escalated so much more during that time, so our safety net is not near adequate,” Evans said.

In his years of farming, Evans said he’s noticed it’s common for the Farm Bill to get pushed back. That creates a list of problems for producers. If the market starts to fall, he said it could be bad because our current safety net is not adequate.

“We really need to be proactive on doing it now while the prices are good and before we have a disaster.” Evans said.

A disaster, like extreme drought, could cause lawmakers to pass ad hoc disaster programs. Evans said that can be avoided with a good Farm Bill.

“Then you get into the ad hoc disaster bills, they go over budget,” Evans said. “If you just have it in the Farm Bill it’s in the budget. It’s more fiscally responsible.”

Evans said he wants it passed by the end of the year, which lawmakers said will happen. If it doesn’t, it could be hard for producers to make decisions in 2024.

“We start making plans after the first of the year, what are we going to plant, what are we going to do, and without a Farm Bill in place, lenders aren’t comfortable, farmers aren’t comfortable. It just leaves so much unknown,” Evans said.

A threat of a government shut down is also leaving Evans uneasy. He said depending on how long it lasts, the Farm Bill could be delayed further.

“There’s a lot of little things that just keep pushing it back and it just makes it longer and longer,” Evans said.

A government shutdown affects the ag industry outside of the Farm Bill. Evans said it would close the Farm Service Agencies that are crucial for farmers.

“If they sell their crop and get their check, the check is made to them and FSA jointly. They can’t even cash their check because there’s no one to sign,” Evans said.

Evans said we should all be focused on when the Farm Bill will be passed because agriculture has a huge economic impact across the nation.