Congress set to meet to discuss farm bill

Source: USDA
Source: USDA

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A big item facing lawmakers in Washington DC this week is the $500 billion farm bill. The impact on the country's agriculture industry could be felt in Louisiana.

The debate on this bill centers on cuts to the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program. But without renewal, food stamp recipients and so many other people could be affected.

The House and Senate are at odds on how much money to cut from the food stamp program and working to come to an agreement. However, the food stamp program is just one part of the farm bill. It also sets subsidy policies for farms and other rural development projects.

Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, said the state's economy took a big enough blow from this month's two-week long government shutdown. He said not renewing the farm bill would do even more damage to the nation financially and otherwise.

He added not extending this bill would also cause a return to a farm bill system from 40 years ago that set commodity prices. He said that means prices for things like dairy and wheat could skyrocket.

Michael Acaldo with St. Vincent de Paul said this is the last thing organizations like his want to hear. He said it is hard enough feeding those in need right now.

Jeff Kleinpeter, the president of Kleinpeter Dairy, said higher prices would not only impact Louisiana and the nation, but effects would also be felt in other countries where products are exported.

Members of the House and Senate are scheduled to meet Wednesday.

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