Some House Republicans defended the idea of extending the 2008 Farm Bill for a year by saying USDA would not be able to implement a new five-year farm bill before farmers make plans for the 2013 crop year and start planting. But USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse says the new computer system at USDA’s Farm Service Agency will allow the department to implement the next farm bill much faster than previous bills. Speaking at the International Sweetener Symposium – Scuse called on Congress to finish a new bill before September 30th – stating that they have a responsibility to enact a farm bill in a timely fashion. Passage by the end of September – he says – will mean farmers can get drought aid quicker. Scuse says a delay could result in an erosion of the baseline that determines how much money is available for farm bill programs.
The new system is known as MIDAS – which stands for Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agriculture Systems. It will go live in January following testing in December. According to Scuse – work that previously took weeks and months can be done in a matter of days thanks to the MIDAS project. He said writing the new rules can be done in a very short period of time – with the bill implemented in a reasonable amount of time. Scuse adds that a new acreage crop reporting streamlining initiative known as ACCURACY will also improve implementation of new programs. Under ACCURACY – farmers only need to report acreage once and it will be shared with several USDA agencies.