Rep. Noem grew up on a farm and has lived her life in agriculture. She is committed to working with both sides of the aisle to get a Farm Bill completed as quickly as possible. Earlier this year, Kristi successfully fought for South Dakota's interests and helped push the Farm Bill through the House Agriculture Committee with a strong, bipartisan vote. Farm Bills are passed around every five years, and the current Farm Bill that was passed in 2008 will expire on September 30. Even though many programs continue without interruption, Kristi has always said that producers deserve the certainty of a Farm Bill that is done on time.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Farm Bill expiration and what it means for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. It's important to point out that historically, it is not uncommon for Farm Bills to be finished after the previous bill has expired. For the most part, South Dakotans will not see major disruptions in farm and food programs at least until the end of this year. If you have any further questions, please contact any of Rep. Noem's offices and we will be glad to provide assistance.
Q: What happens after the Farm Bill expires on September 30?
A: Similar to when the 2002 Farm Bill expired in 2007, many programs will continue without any change at least through the end of the year. Most commodity programs are authorized based on the crop year, so there won't be major disruptions until around the time winter wheat is harvested next spring.
Crop insurance payments will continue to go out.
Those with acres currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program will still receive payments.
When it comes to food stamps, folks will continue receiving their benefits without disruption.
Q: Will any programs be impacted right away?
A: Yes. While most programs will have no disruptions, there are a few that expire with the expiration of the Farm Bill on September 30. The most significant of these is the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, which is a price support program for dairy. Small dairies could still feel impacts more than the larger dairies. That is why the House Agriculture Committee-passed version of the Farm Bill has a provision that could be used to retroactively cover dairy producers before a new dairy program is implemented. Rep. Noem will work to allow for retroactive coverage for dairy producers between when MILC expires and a new Farm Bill is in place.
Q: Is this the first time a Farm Bill has expired?
A: No. The Farm Bill has expired before, most recently in 2007 when the 2002 Farm Bill expired. Not only did it expire, it required a total of six extensions before a new bill was enacted the following year. It also faced an additional hurdle because it was vetoed by President Bush. The 2002 Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2007. It was extended for the first time on December 26, 2007 and there were five subsequent extensions before a new bill was enacted in June of 2008. Furthermore, only two farm bills have been enacted before the September 30 deadline in the past forty years. According to the Congressional Research Service, only the 1973 and 1977 farm bills were enacted before September 30. Farm bills in 1981, 1985, and 1990 were enacted by December 31, a few months after the end of the fiscal year but before spring-planted crops covered by the new law were planted.
Q: What is the status of a new Farm Bill?
A: For a Farm Bill to be signed into law, it first has to pass out of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House. If the bodies pass different versions of a Farm Bill, the bill will go to a Conference Committee, where representatives from both the Senate and House get together and hash out the differences between the two bills in order to produce one final bill. When the Conference Committee comes to an agreement, the final bill must be voted on again by both bodies. When both the House and Senate pass the Conference Committee bill, it goes to the President's desk for his signature. After a bill is signed into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will work to implement and administer the new programs.
The Senate has passed a new 2012 Farm Bill. The House has not. The House Agriculture Committee passed a five-year Farm Bill in July with a bipartisan vote of 35-11, with Rep. Noem's support, but it has not been brought the House floor for a vote.
Q: What is being done to get a Farm Bill done?
A: Farm Bills have historically been bipartisan. This year the Farm Bill makes important reforms to food and farm programs that make them more accountable to the taxpayers. Unfortunately, this had led to some not supporting a Farm Bill. Rep. Noem has been a leading voice in educating other members about the critical importance of a Farm Bill. Rep. Noem is helping lead a bipartisan charge to bring the Farm Bill to the floor. Almost immediately after the House Agriculture Committee passed its bill, Rep. Noem was joined by Democratic Congressman Peter Welch from Vermont in a signature-gathering effort on a letter to House leadership calling on them to bring the bill to the floor. That letter garnered a total of 79 signatures, from both Republicans and Democrats. Rep. Noem also sent a letter to President Obama, requesting he join the effort in building a bipartisan coalition in support of the Farm Bill. In addition to multiple meetings with Speaker John Boehner and Leader Eric Cantor, Rep. Noem has also been pushing a discharge petition to force a vote on the Farm Bill. Rep. Noem was the third member and the first Republican to sign the discharge petition. She has also joined farmers and ranchers from across American in calling for a Farm Bill at a Farm Bill Now rally outside the Capitol.