Tacked on to the fiscal cliff package Congress passed late Tuesday night is an extension of the farm bill but it's not a permanent fix. Area farmers say it's better than nothing but still leaves quite a bit of uncertainty.
"They just kicked the can down the road. I guess it's a better option than passing a bad one," said Mike Holst, President of the Scott County Farm Bureau.
Holst went to Washington D.C. last March to push for a new farm bill. Instead 2013 starts off with a nine-month extension of the farm bill from 2008. It's a temporary fix that does keep milk prices from doubling and keeps many of the existing farm programs in place, including direct payments and crop insurance which Holst says ultimately means more affordable food for consumers.
"It ensure more acres get planted and if the acres get planted, farmers find a way to get good enough yield we get a decent crop and keep food prices in check," added Holst.
The trade off though is cuts to conservation and energy and failing to provide money for already expired disaster relief programs. "There was a catastrophic disaster program they had in place these last several years that they did end."
On one hand Holst says it does help knowing what kind of government support is available to farmers. "All business needs certainty in policy. We're planning ahead more than one year."
Farmers were bracing for certain spending cuts agreed to in committee on the previous bill. Without them, on the other hand, may not be the best for the nation's economic problems. "Because they kicked it down the road, our budget is that much more out of whack," said Holst.
Now, it will be up to the 113th congress to come up with new farm legislation. Holst says his concern is over continued support for crop insurance in passing a complete five-year bill.