One industry expert says Nebraska farmers and ranchers who are hoping to see a new Farm Bill come out of Congress this year will likely be disappointed.
Barry Flinchbaugh, an ag economist at Kansas State University, says with the elections in November, he doesn’t expect a lot of work to be done on the Farm Bill until next year.
“I don’t see how we can possibly pass the Farm Bill before the election,” Flinchbaugh says. “Now, they’re all going to say they’re going to do it but it takes forever for them to deliver and they’re going to be busy back home campaigning.”
He says it’s possible a Farm Bill will materialize during the “lame duck” session between the November election and Christmas, but he’s betting it won’t appear until April of 2013. Flinchbaugh says most of the agricultural industry experienced a good year in 2011.
“It’s the best on record in terms of net farm income,” he says. “Now, we got that kind of net farm income with the drought in Texas and Oklahoma, so if we wouldn’t have had that extensive drought in the southwest, it would’ve been even more money.”
He says ag income will likely increase this year, following the approval of the trade agreements last fall that had been pending for a long time.
“That took forever and it’s especially important for animal agriculture,” Flinchbaugh says. “South Korea’s a great beef customer. Columbia is our biggest supporter in South America. It’ll add a couple billion to net farm income.”
In the year ahead, he sees the biggest challenges to producers in Nebraska as being rising input costs — seed, fertilizer and fuel — and, of course, the weather.
Dave Niedfeldt, KWBE, Beatrice