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Appropriations Process Stalls in House, Ag Programs at Risk

A spending rebellion by House GOP hardliners has stalled the appropriations process in the lower chamber, putting Ag and other programs at risk. Hardliners withheld their votes for the annual defense spending bill after earlier sidelining USDA-FDA appropriations and won’t back a temporary bill to fund the government without deeper cuts.

Without a stopgap or House-Senate USDA spending deal and no farm bill by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, some programs could see funding shortfalls. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, ahead of the current House turmoil, said “I think the only one that I could think of, that would have to have a short extension, would be the food stamp program, and I’m sure that would be in a continuing resolution, pretty easily. For that matter, if the farm bill programs end September 30th, they could be very easily extended for the next few weeks while we’re negotiating a five-year farm bill.”

But doing so would likely take a rider on the USDA spending bill, now thrown into doubt. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says other programs could also be affected without some kind of funding extension by October 1st.

“We don’t believe we need a general one, but there are certain programs that don’t have baseline funding, and so, the USDA has given a few areas where they believe they need to continue certain Beginning Farmer programs,” according to Stabenow.

Other farm bill programs like crop insurance would continue, while commodity programs would start being impacted on January 1st. Grassley says a one-year extension would be needed right before Christmas to prevent a reversion to archaic permanent law, which is inconsistent with modern agriculture and government farm policies.

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