Back on May 3, 2013 in a blog titled “For What It’s Worth”, we outlined a future forecast of activity surrounding the Farm Bill. We ended that piece with a prediction that sometime during 2013, after contentious debate in Congress, President Obama would sign the 2013 Farm Bill in a White House ceremony. A recap of actual events is as follows:
1. Due to a series of delays – caused by the contentious debate which was predicted – it is now officially the 2014 Farm Bill. It runs from 2014 until it expires on September 30, 2018.
2. It will be signed today by President Obama in Michigan on the campus of Michigan State University. The usual White House ceremony which we predicted has given way to an event at a land grant university with a nod of deserved recognition to Michigan Democrat and Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. In addition, it will give the president a forum to discuss the Ag Research aspects of the 2014 Farm Bill plus the jobs implications.
It sounds like the other Ag Committee leadership [Cochran (R) of Mississippi, Lucas (R) of Oklahoma and Peterson (D) of Minnesota] will skip the road show signing ceremony. This seems to be in anticipation of future election battles and not wanting to be seen – even in a celebratory moment of victory – on the same stage with the President in a cordial environment. Sort of a sad commentary on how difficult it is to reach an actual compromise and bi-partisan solutions in the year 2014 AD.
3. Our prediction that conventional crop insurance would be left largely unchanged in this legislation did, in fact, come true. We will launch a discussion on our view of the “winners and losers” in this final Farm Bill over the next week or so. Fortunately, for those of us involved in the crop insurance private sector, we are included in the winners list for this go around. The naysayers, such as EWG and Heritage Group who worked to derail crop insurance via any means possible, will be high up on the “losers list” where they belong, again only for this go around.
We will need to be prepared for an even more intense battle in anticipation of the 2018 expiration of this legislation. Crop insurance will again be the #1 Farm Bill target of those opposed to conventional production agriculture. That process can be tabled for the next few months as we implement the 2014 Farm Bill.
As for today, we can watch the President take the pen in his left hand and sign the 2014 Farm Bill, as was predicted in the May blog from 2013, although one year later. We can enjoy the moment and perhaps hum the final words of the Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield) classic:
“Everybody look what’s going down”