Sewell says farmers will face funding challenge
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell told farmers and producers on Friday that the 2012 farm bill will be $23 billion less than the 2008 farm bill in order to meet the spending target set by a congressional committee on deficit reduction.
The current $288 billion farm bill, which became law in June 2008, is set to expire in September 2012. Congress is on the path to pass the new bill, which provides funding for food stamps, school lunches, crops, agriculture research, energy and rural development.
About three-fourths of the farm bill is nutrition-related, such as food stamps, leaving about $70 billion for non-nutrition programs.
Sewell, D-Birmingham, spent much of Friday in the Black Belt, the rural heart of the Seventh District she represents, meeting farmers, producers and growers to get input for the new farm bill.
“The real challenge will be how to do more with less,” Sewell told minority farmers in Selma.
Sewell said she will try to use her position on the House Agriculture Committee to influence the outcome of the bill that will soon start its journey through the House.
“This is so important to me, being on the Agriculture Committee,” Sewell said. “It’s important to hear directly from farmers to understand what needs to be done. I can only be as effective as you tell me of your needs.”
Sewell took her listening tour to Selma, Marion Junction, Uniontown and Boligee. She received numerous recommendations about what is important to Alabama agriculture.
A significant issue is the possibility of decreased subsidies, to be replaced by crop insurance coverage.
“A small loss is not as important as a catastrophic loss,” Aliceville farmer Annie Dee said in Uniontown.