Although it doesn't attract attention like "Obamacare" and "Duck Dynasty," the Farm Bill that was a hot topic last summer has all but turned into a pumpkin.
“Unfortunately, farm families find themselves in the same position they were in last year when the Farm Bill extension expired," said Missouri 8th District Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO). "If we do not pass a Farm Bill soon consumers will see much higher groceries prices, first with dairy products."
As of November 2013, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees were in the negotiation process, and now, at the 11th hour, there is still no Farm Bill.
However, David Rogers of Politico earlier this week reported that the committees are "pressing to complete their own long-delayed farm bill" before Jan. 15, which is a big day for Congress.
The report states that the committees hope to meet as early as Thursday to have a bill on the House floor before the mid-January recess.
An aide with Smith's office said this week that House leadership has announced that the Farm Bill will be "a priority" next week.
"I supported the House Farm Bill that achieves nearly $60 billion in savings while giving our rural communities and farm families the security they need," Smith said. "I will continue encouraging members of the House and Senate to act.”
The much-needed Farm Bill is among other issues in Washington, including pending negotiations over a $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending bill to avoid another shutdown on Jan. 15.
The primary issue surrounding the Farm Bill is whether or not the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate will agree on how to address the $80 billion-per-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called food stamps.
The expiration of the farm bill extension, which was passed in January 2013, caused a number of farm programs to revert to permanent law — rate structures set in the 1940s.
With dairy supports expiring, milk prices could go through the roof if legislators fail to act accordingly.
Smith, along with many other supporters of a new Farm Bill, have warned that the cost of a gallon of milk could easily double.
"I remain hopeful that the conference committee will keep the cost-savings reforms that were passed by the House," Smith said. "The House farm bill included $20 billion in savings by reforming or eliminating over 100 old and obsolete programs. The House farm bill also created an additional $40 billion in savings by reforming food-stamp eligibility to make sure that only those who really need government assistance receive it, and by not rewarding individuals who are able to find loopholes."
According to a Sept. 30 report from the Associated Press, the House's $4 billion in cuts per year is contending with the Senate's $400 million in cuts per year.
The SNAP program has more than doubled since 2008, with more than 47 million Americans, using the program, the report said.
According to a report released late last year from the University of Missouri Extension office, the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program expired Sept. 30, 2013, which has proven to be a "financial safety net" for dairy farmers.
"When milk prices crash, and prices do, farmers need protection," said Joe Horner, a University of Missouri Extension dairy economist. "There were times in the last 10 years when the only thing keeping us afloat was MILC payments."
According to Smith's office, milk prices haven't spiked yet because of the projection of the dairy program. However, these safety nets will run out completely sooner than later.