Labrador, Simpson Split Votes on Farm Bill... Now What?

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As politicos attempt to measure the political fallout from the U.S. House defeat of a proposed farm bill June 20, the nation's farmers say something much more tangible is at risk: their planting season.

The half-trillion dollar bill went down to defeat by a 39-vote margin in the House, with Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson voting "yes" on the measure and Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador voting "no."

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that farmers, ranchers and dairy producers say the failure to secure a farm bill "left them unable to plan as the planting season approached and some programs, like disaster assistance for livestock producers, remained unfinanced."

According to the Times, in 2012, during the worst drought in 50 years producers were forced to kill thousands of cows and other livestock as hay and water supplies dwindled. The farm bill would have restored financing for the disaster relief program, according to the Times.

Of particular interest to Idaho dairymen: if a farm bill is not agreed on by September, farm programs would default to an antiquated 1949 law that forces Washington to buy milk at wildly inflated prices, creating higher prices for dairy products. According to the Times, because of adjustments for inflation, the government would be "forced by law to buy milk at about twice the current market prices to maintain a stable market."

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