Farmers though out Acadiana and the country are a little more hopeful after the House narrowly passed the farm bill on their second try.
Democrats unanimously oppossed it, saying it will take too many people off government food assistance. KATC’s Josh Meny got the reaction from those in attendance at the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s yearly conference in New Orleans.
"It’s very imperative that we move the farm bill forward because the farm bill is the rock of stability for agriculture in the United States. It sets the roadmap for the greatest and the most expansive and the largest industry in America," says Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.
The farm bill provides nearly $870 million dollars in safety net funding for farmers, which officials say is important for farmers right now.
"All these potential trade wars we have going on and trade distortion that could lead to some problems. If we are blocked out of a country due to a disagreement./ Mexico’s the number one export market for U.S. long grain rice. That is what we produce mainly in Louisiana," says LA Farm Bureau Federation Director of National Affairs Kyle Mccann.
President Trump’s tough talks about tariffs could close off some markets Louisiana ships to.
"Right now you’re having to make some hard decisions. You know a lot of the crops are in the ground, and you’re looking at what you have to sell them for. Right, you’re looking at your contracts, we have to make sure we have the markets to receive that. And, so getting the stability of the farm bill will result in the markets having those better prices," says Strain.
A Vermilion Parish farmer says he’s reassured by the progress Washington is making so far.
"There’s so many outside factors that can hurt us, especially in South Louisiana. We have hurricanes, we have disease pressure. We have drought, we have salt water problems especially in the southern part of the state, and that’s the only thing we have to help us keep going," says Aaron Lee a rice crawfish & cattle farmer.
With the current market volatilities, it’s important for Louisiana farmers to have the confidence of the bill.
"Most of the rice farmers go with the PLC program, Price Loss Coverage. It means if the price gets lower than a certain price floor. The government steps in and makes up the difference. So, if the price of rice drops we can’t make a living. All in all if the price tanks that’s a disaster if you think about it, and it’s a safety net for us, it keeps us going," Lee says.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the farm bill next week.
"This will be one of the first time in probably almost a generation that the house and the Senate will have a farm bill out of the chambers before July 4th," Strain said.
Once passed, farm bills generally remain in effect for five years.