Today’s Congressional decision to extend the 2008 Farm Bill by one year rather than proceed with a comprehensive five-year version, is “a missed opportunity that leaves U.S. farmers less secure and puts important programs that conserve soil and improve water quality in limbo.” So says Jon Scholl, American Farmland Trust president, in a statement just released.

“We believe that Congress missed the perfect opportunity to sew up a long-term, well-balanced farm bill that gives farmers the certainty they need to plan for the future, install sound farm program reforms and assure a fair sharing of the necessary budget sacrifices,” says Scholl.

He adds that the short-term extension of current law sets the stage for a difficult farm bill process in the next Congress.

“Not only will committees have to rewrite the farm bill, but we anticipate an even greater budgetary challenge when the Congressional Budget Office releases new baseline numbers in March. In any event, we strongly urge that farm and ranch land conservation program funding be protected,” he adds.

The North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), in mid-December statements, also opposed an extension.

“An extension of the 2008 farm bill does not serve North Dakota farmers and ranchers well,” says Elwood “Woody” Barth, NDFU president. “We need to pass a five-year farm bill that will give farmers and ranchers the support they need to continue providing food, fiber and fuel.”

Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President, agreed. “Any short-term extension of the farm bill would only cause a litany of problems that will not be easily fixed when a new farm bill eventually is signed into law.”

For more on the farm bill, visit our sister publication, Farm Futures, and read “Farm Bill Deal Reached.”