New Farm Bill And How It Affects The QCA - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

New Farm Bill And How It Affects The QCA

Posted: Updated: Feb 1, 2014 10:19 PM

A new five-year farm bill is now heading to the senate. The White House said President Obama will sign it, if it gets to his desk.

Direct payments to farmers are gone with the new farm bill, subsidies paid to farmers whether they produced crops or not. Instead, farmers will now be able to buy better crop insurance, something they say they're excited about.     

At a round-table discussion on the new farm bill today, IL-Representative Cheri Bustos said crop insurance will give farmers protection. 

"We have a crop insurance program that gives farmers who have to live through things like droughts and floods, it gives them some certainty that they can be successful moving forward," said Rep. Bustos.

The Vice President of the Illinois Farm Bureau David Erickson applauded the proposed crop insurance changes saying there are better options, but is worried  there won't be a lot of time to properly implement them.

"You have to make some decision in enrollment and insurance coverages that you won't fully know the full impact of your decision if you don't know how the plans or the final rules are written for those programs," said Erickson.

Erickson said he told Rep. Bustos today that there needs to be more leniency for farmers when deciding on what kind of insurance plans they want. Since the planting season is approaching quickly they may get locked into a plan that doesn't give them the right kind of coverage. 

Besides insurance, the farm bill also takes a first step to upgrading locks and dams. Rep. Bustos said there's $60 billion in backlog needs for them.

"We need it upgraded, again, to move our agricultural products not just within the United States, but get that out to the world as well," said Rep. Bustos.

The food stamp program is also taking a hit with the new farm bill, $800 million is being cut from the program nationally. 

But despite national cuts, Rep. Bustos said the state of Illinois didn't lose any money for food stamps. She said it actually gained nearly $200 million to help grow programs in what are called food deserts. These are areas where there is limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Iowa also will not see food stamp cuts.