Farm Bill Failure and Trade War Create Uncertainty for Farmers

ANKENY, Iowa  --  The U.S. House of Representatives was unable to pass the most recent farm bill, which has made farmers more uneasy than they already were amidst a trade war with China.

The Iowa Soybean Association said the farm bill is an important mechanism that the legislature passes every five years, and it includes nutrition programs like SNAP and school lunch, crop insurance, and conservation.

“The farm bill affects farmers because of the impact it has by providing crop insurance, a risk management tool, because there are so many things in agriculture that are outside of our control, such as the weather and global economic trade agreements," said Iowa Soybean Association Director of Market Development Grant Kimberley. "So crop insurance provides some support for that. Conservation is important for every person living in Iowa and everyone around the country. Farmers want to conserve their land."

Drake University agricultural law professor Neil Hamilton said there is still time to pass a farm bill because the current bill doesn’t expire until September 30th.

“The Senate is planning to move ahead with a farm bill that they believe is a wise one. On the other hand, you have a much greater partisan divide in the House, which is really tied up to some larger issues,” Hamilton said.

The trade war with China is not directly related to the bill, but is not making anything easier.

“I think what makes the farm bill action more concerning is the current situation with trade is very unsettled and farmers feel very much at risk with the actions going on with China. The farm bill confusion just added another element of one more thing to worry about, and so they’re not directly related but they kind of compound each other,” Hamilton said.

Kimberley said they are hopeful the end to the trade war is in sight.

“Chinese buyers did back off from purchasing U.S. soybeans and Iowa soybeans, and so they’ve looked for other sources in the short term, like Russia and Brazil and other places," he said. "But in the long term view, China’s appetite for soybeans is so large they will have to come back to the United States at some level."