WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

Concerns remain as farm bill expires

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Concerns over skyrocketing milk prices and a loss of benefits starting Thursday are on hold, but not gone.

“Having enough money makes a big difference in being able to have a healthy diet,” Feed My People Food Bank Executive Director Emily Moore said.

That's just one worry coming from people waiting for a new farm bill to be passed by legislators.

Chippewa County UW Extention agricultural agent Randy Knapp said he thinks a bill will get passed, but there's a lot at stake.

“Without knowing a farm bill, they don't know exactly like in the crop area, what type of insurance is going to be available.”

He said no new farm bill makes farmers less prepared for falling markets. If no bill was passed, the law would revert back to its 1949 version, with some projecting milk prices going to eight dollars a gallon. Knapp said that would take a few weeks to enact, making alternatives more likely.

“I see that the congress gets back working, that they're either going to work out these differences and pass a farm bill, probably mid to late Jan. Or they'll pass another continuing one-year resolution,” Knapp said.

Part of a new bill includes the SNAP program, better known as food stamps, providing assistance for low income families to pay for food. Proposals to decrease funding or separate SNAP from the farm bill have many concerned about how that could affect health and the economy.

“The SNAP program is so huge that if we were to lose it or have it significantly reduced, it would be almost impossible for the charitable programs to make up that difference,” Moore said.

With no new farm bill the long term effects on food banks like Feed My People in Eau Claire are still unclear.

“It's providing that basic need. When that unravels, like you say, everything begins to unravel.”

Eau Claire County's Department of Human Services said more than 13,500 people benefitted from the SNAP program in the county this year, getting about $110 a month for food.

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