Babcock talks farm bill on Talk of Iowa

ISU professor of economics Bruce Babcock spoke with Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe about this year’s farm bill, or rather the lack thereof, on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 officially terminated at midnight on September 30. The current session of Congress, being heralded as one of the most unproductive sessions in recent history by some, failed to pass a new farm bill, or to even offer a short-term extension on the old bill.

Babcock told Nebbe that there would be little current impact with the delay, but it could cause problems in the near future. “I think that there would be a lot of pressure on Congress to get the bill passed in the next session,” Babcock said, noting that without a farm bill there is no authority to enroll new land in conservation areas.

The farm bill also covers a broad range of programs from the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to crop insurance and subsidies. “The old rationale for having such a broad farm bill was to get the urban supporters, say of the food stamp program, to vote for subsidies for farmers,” he said. In the future, though, Babcock said the day may come when the farm bill gets split up.

For now, Babcock said that the average non-farmer should be most concerned about the conservation, research, and funding measures included in the farm bill. Babcock said that agriculture will face a lot of challenges over the next 20 years, and research will have a large impact on the price we pay for food in the future.

The full interview can be heard here:

(Released October 2012)