No New Farm Bill Til the New Year

Farmers and ranchers – you can cross a new farm bill off your Christmas list. American Farm Bureau Farm Policy Specialist Mary Kay Thatcher says it’s not going to happen…

“Unfortunately we are going to talk about a 2014 farm bill. I’m still very optimistic we will finish by January.”

Thatcher says that’s because there’s just not time to get it through a conference committee before Congress goes home for the holidays. Because of that – the House has passed an extension of the current bill because it expires on December 31st. But Thatcher says the Senate is unlikely to do the same…

“Its very unlikely we could pass another extension. There would be people who really want a lot of reform in food stamps and if you don’t pass a new bill you get zero cuts. There are people who don’t want farmers to have direct payments, that wont happen if we pass an extension. We think an extension is a very bad idea. We are very close to getting a farm bill and we need to keep working on it.”

So if nothing happens until January – what will that mean for milk prices? Thatcher says it won’t be as bad as some media outlets have predicted…
“The whole milk issue and the idea of going to $8 a gallon is really a myth. It will never get that high, maybe $5 per gallon. The press assumes there is something magic about Jan 1 and that the Dept of Ag will implement this new policy and the prices will spike immediately. That’s not true. The idea of having a provision in there that would drive up commodity prices is a sledge hammer to get congress to work on this. We think its important to keep that in effect, but we know those things are so hard to administer at USDA that its not likely to happen. The good news is that it hopefully pushes us along the bad news is that it puts out some bad information.”

AFBF Farm Policy Specialist Mary Kay Thatcher.


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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