Senate passes 'complicated' Farm Bill, UC's Dan Sumner says
Now that a half-trillion-dollar Farm Bill has been passed by the U.S. Senate and is headed for the House of Representatives, Madeleine Brand interviewed Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, to get his take on the Senate action. The nearly six-minute interview aired on Southern California Public Radio's Madeleine Brand Show.
Sumner said the Senate's Farm Bill contains substantial changes in the dairy program, the biggest of which is removal of an ancient price support program. The program, in which the government would buy powdered milk, butter or cheese if prices fell below a certain level, has not been implemented in the last two decades.
A new program will probably provide more payments to farmers, but Sumner said the "strings attached" make the provisions unhealthy for the industry in the long run.
"In order to participate, you have to agree cut back your milk production whenever the prices are low by government standards," Sumner said. "What that means, the more efficient, more innovative farms that would like to be growing have to cut back."
He said he expects the House version of the Farm Bill to be "quite different" from the Senate version.
"The speaker and the leadership in the House have been more clear they want substantial budget cuts and, given the nature of the majority in the house, those are more likely to happen on the nutrition side," Sumner said.