UPDATE: Anti-hunger advocates in Wis. push for farm bill

By: Rachelle Baillon Email
By: Rachelle Baillon Email

UPDATED Wednesday, October 16, 2013 --- 12:21 p.m.

FRANKLIN, Wis. (AP) -- Anti-hunger advocates say the announcement of a deal to reopen the federal government is good news, but that doesn't mean their fight is over.

They say passage of a farm bill that covers both farm programs and food programs is critical to keeping people fed, and people need to call their lawmakers and remind them of that.

A farm bill extension expired at the end of last month, and work on a new bill has languished Congress focused on the 16-day shutdown and a threatened Treasury default.

Sherrie Tussler is executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force. She said at a Wednesday news conference that an end to the shutdown would be "great news" but it isn't enough to make sure all who need food will get it.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013--6:15p.m.
There's never a break for Wisconsin's dairy producers. Even if they could take a day off, their cows certainly won't. Milk is constantly on the way. "Our farm produces about thirteen million pounds of milk a year," said Mitch Breunig, the owner of Mystic Valley Dairy.

That revolving rotation means Breunig and his staff don't have time to monitor Congress's progress on a farm bill--or more accurately--its lack of progress. "We still have to go about our business every day and try to produce the most nutritious product we can," he said.

But some industry leaders are watching Capitol hill very closely, because if Congress hasn't come up with something by September: "Then we go back to an archaic 1949 law which is going to skew prices of a lot of farm items, particularly dairy," said Casey Langan, of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

There's talk that that scenario could push milk prices to $6 a gallon. "Consumers don't want to spend that much, farmers don't want to scare off consumers who you know will reduce their milk consumption," said Langan.

Langan said they're hoping that doesn't happen. But thanks to congressional gridlock, he's not expecting a farm bill anytime soon. "There'll be a push with Congress people to really get this farm bill done in late August or September," he said.

But rushing to meet that deadline may not yield the kind of bill farmers like Breunig would like to see. He said needs vary so much between the different agriculture industries--and across the country--that a bill trying to address all of them collectively, requires time to be done right. "Let's not rush and do something just because we have a deadline, but let's really make a plan that moves forward," said Breunig. "In six years from now when we're working on the next farm bill we can look back and say that was a very good piece of legislation rather than we all give a little bit and end up with a bad piece."


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