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Farm Bill Extension Leaves Out Many In Northwest


RICHLAND, Wash. – Many Northwest growers are left out of the partial extension of the U.S. Farm Bill included in this week’s fiscal cliff legislation. The new law largely covers conventional agriculture and not the organics, specialty crops and conservation programs that our region’s farmers are known for.

A popular USDA conservation program encourages some farmers to turn their crop ground back into bunch grass or native forbs. That helps to preserve the soil so we don’t have another drought dust bowl. But with this new national Farm Bill extension, many farmers might not be able to re-enroll when their program term expires.

Eric Schuck is a professor of economics specializing in agriculture at Linfield College in Oregon. Congress also failed to renew government support for organic growers’ crop insurance.

“Because we are not as traditional in our production, whether it be in terms of what we grow or how we grow it, we were left out compared to other regions.”

Schuck says many Northwest farmers are anxious about the coming growing season. With just an eight-month extension of the law they’re unsure of what seeds, fertilizer and insurance to buy.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.