Illinois farmers have much at stake in Farm Bill

Congress will begin hammering out the latest Farm Bill in 2012, with likely spending cuts on the horizon.

January 3, 2012

By Ashley Gross

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(photo/gmtbillings)
Downtown Bloomington farmers' market

The year 2012 will be an important one for farmers in Illinois and the rest of the country, as Congress hammers out the latest Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill covers everything from crop insurance to programs that help farmers limit pesticide use. No surprise – lawmakers this time around will be looking to cut.

Adam Nielsen of the Illinois Farm Bureau says direct payments to farmers are probably history. Those are subsidies the government paid to farmers even in times of high commodity prices like now.

"There was an enormous target on them and it was the desire of a lot of policymakers out here in Washington to eliminate them," Nielsen said.

But that’s not the only thing likely to get slashed. Wes King is with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which promotes sustainable agriculture.

"Conservation programs are going to take a huge hit," King said.

But King says he’s hopeful the new Farm Bill will offer more support to organic farmers as Congress starts to take the sustainable food movement seriously.