Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says he’s working on getting the U.S. Ag Department to extend a “lifeline” to programs that will lack funding if a farm bill doesn’t pass by the Sunday deadline.
The current farm bill runs out over the weekend and funding for a lot of smaller initiatives will be in limbo. Politico says there are about 40 programs that could be in trouble because they’ll lack mandatory baseline funding without a new farm bill. Advocates and industry groups are concerned that some of the programs may have to temporarily close their doors if there isn’t a reliable source of funding for them to stay active.
The Kansas Republican says they’re making arrangements so those programs don’t have to close during the interim period. “The same thing happened in 2012,” Roberts recalls. “That’s not the way we would have liked to see things go, but I think they know they’ll be fully funded. Right now, it’s just a temporary hiccup.” House Ag Committee Chair Michael Conaway says the USDA’s trade aid package could help fill in for the Foreign Market Development Program, which wouldn’t have baseline funding.
The aid package contains a trade-promotion element of $200 million, while the FMD program costs $34.5 million annually.