Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-East Lansing) and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are urging the GOP-led House to approve a new farm bill when it returns to work after Labor Day.
An early hot spell, a devastating freeze and a crippling drought have wreaked havoc on farmers this year. The USDA is responding with lower interest rates on emergency loans and unpaid crop insurance premiums. It’s also opening livestock grazing lands normally held in conservation.
That helps Michigan dairy producers for now, but Senator Debbie Stabenow says what farmers really need is long-term protection.
"Back in 2009 we lost a lot of dairy farms when the economy went down," Stabenow says. "So, without a five-year farm bill, without changing and improving policy for dairy farmers, it's a disaster waiting to happen."
Stabenow is calling on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to make the farm bill a top priority when the House returns from summer recess. Many current farm bill programs expire at the end of September.