Farm policy heads back to the ’40s

Nobody seems to have noticed in all the commotion over the partial government shutdown that is now a week old, but at the same time the government ran out of funding authority, the nation’s farm policy expired as well.

Congress did not meet the deadline to pass a new farm bill, meaning many federal farm programs expired. Farm policy could revert to the permanent law passed in 1949.

Think back to 1949 and how farms were run. Farms were much smaller and much more diverse. The idea of specializing in one crop or raising hundredsor thousands of animals was a couple of decades away. Small tractors and equipment limited how much land one farmer could work.

Today’s agriculture would be nearly unrecognizable to a 1949 farmer. So we wonder how well 1949 farm policy will serve today’s farmers and today’s consumers?

Farmers have no idea what kind of price supports there will be when they make their planting decisions next spring.

Consumers could see much higher prices for dairy products, because 1949 price supports are more than double recent market prices.

Congress needs to get this fixed.

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