Last Modified: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 2:39 PM
JENNINGS — A new farm bill, as written, would be disastrous to Southwest Louisiana rice and soybean farmers, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, told members of the Jefferson Davis Parish Republican Women’s Club and Jennings Lions Club during a joint meeting Monday.
The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.
“Unless something is done our farm program is going to be hurt,” Boustany said. “The Senate passed a bill, but it is not good for Louisiana because it hurts our rice and soybean industry.”
The state’s sugar industry would fare OK under the program, he said.
“This measure would leave the rice, soybean and cotton farmers without any safety net,” he said.
While Congress has taken its August recess without passing the five-year farm bill, Boustany is hoping the issue is taken back up quickly when lawmakers reconvene.
“When we go back in September we are either going to have to extend the current farm bill or suspend it entirely,” he said.
Extending the bill another year would give lawmakers more time to work out details to benefit Southwest Louisiana farmers, he said.
The reaction to the one-year extension has been mixed, Boustany said.
“A number of our agriculture producers are OK with a one-year extension while the Farm Bureau was opposed to it,” he said. “They want us to come up with a new bill, so there is a division among the ranks. But at this late stage it’s almost a given that we are going to have to extend the current farm bill to buy us some time.”
The farm bill measure being considered would only address emergency drought provisions for certain crops and states, leaving many Southwest Louisiana farmers without protection, he said.
The measure proposed by the House Agriculture Committee would provide better price-loss insurance coverage to protect rice and sweet potato farmers against losses.
Both measures eliminate direct cash payments.