Former Ag Committee chair says the current Farm Bill could possibly be extended

Collin Peterson, the former House Ag Committee chair spoke recently at the U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference.

Collin Peterson


The Farm Bill deadline is just four months away, and there are growing concerns the important piece of legislation will not be done on time. However, Collin Peterson, the former House Ag Committee chair says that wouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker.

“They could. I’d be surprised, but September 30th is not a drop-dead date. Nothing actually happens that day that’s going to cause any significant problems. I think they probably have till the end of the year to try to get something done. If it doesn’t get done by the end of the year, I think it’ll probably get extended. They’ll do a one-year extension, and then it’s an election year. I wouldn’t be surprised if you do a one-year extension, then you’ll end up with a two-year extension,” Peterson said.

Speaking at the U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference in Minneapolis, Peterson explained to the crowd what a one or two-year extension of the current Farm Bill could mean.

“Depends on where you’re from. One of the things people are focused on is these reference prices. Well, the 10 percent reference price increase is $20 billion. I think corn goes to $4 or something, and soybeans go to $9 and something, so they’re not going to trigger. If we spend $20 billion, for us in the Midwest, we get nothing out of it for the first two or three years, according to the projections. In the South, that’s different. So, rice has got a significant problem. We raised their reference price last time to $14.50, and now they say they need $16 to break even. Rice is a small crop, so we can do that. Peanuts are a small crop. We can do that. Cotton, they don’t have as big a problem, but they want in on the deal. They’re expensive. So that whole reference price issue, I think in terms of the overall situation, there’s a lot of money for not that much good. In the Midwest, that money would be better spent on crop insurance,” Peterson said.

The former legislator from Minnesota says there are a lot of lawmakers in Washington right now who have never had a hand in the Farm Bill before and need education on U.S. and world agriculture.

“Maybe that’s a good thing. They haven’t voted against it. There’s just a lot of education that needs to be done. I mean, we have in the House on the Democratic side, you got 11 Freshmen that are on the committee. Obviously, they’ve never been involved in this. Half of them don’t have a whole lot of agriculture in their district, so there’s just a lot of education that needs to be done. And frankly, on the Republican side, back in the old days, they had very strong ties to agriculture on the Republican side. That’s not the case so much. Even on their side, they don’t have solid of an ag background as they used to, so it’s a different world,” Peterson said.


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