The farm bill expiration has led to multiple programs losing their authorization as well as funding. With the federal government’s fiscal year ending on September 30, the same day the farm bill expired, programs that were receiving $50 million or less in mandatory funding will not receive any baseline funding beyond that date. A total of 39 programs including bioenergy and agricultural research programs will be left without financial support until lawmakers return to Washington after the November midterm elections.
“These programs had estimated mandatory spending totaling $2.824 billion over the five-year farm bill. While this total may be a relatively small fraction of total farm bill spending (0.6% of the $489 billion five-year total projection), the effect may be particularly important to specific farm bill titles and to the programs’ beneficiaries,” according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
Programs such the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Agricultural Easement Program, and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are all still technically funded, however, there is no authorization to support them. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has suspended the enrollment for CSP until a new farm bill is approved. The processing of CRP enrollments and the approval of new contracts have also been suspended. Existing contracts that were approved before September 28 will continue to receive the appropriate payments.
Along with conservation programs, there is a wide range of other programs and initiatives that will be left in limbo until a new farm bill is enacted. Programs designed to benefit veteran, socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers are in jeopardy of running out of resources. Other rural development, trade promotion, and organic programs are also at risk in the short term.
The farm bill expiration will not affect certain programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP and crop insurance coverage. Each of those programs has permanent authorization and are not dependent on a farm bill for approval. There are efforts taking place on behalf of policymakers and advocacy groups to ensure other programs are able to continue in some type of fashion until Congress reconvenes.