Food prices could spike as farm bill deadline looms

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Inaction from politicians could soon make grocery prices spike.

Congress has until the end of Sept. to pass or extend a farm bill, or food prices could go up, with assistance programs on the line, according to Andrew Bourget, County Executive Director with the Farm Service Agency said.

No action will take the laws back 64 years until a new farm bill is put into place. Protecting farmers from tough times, consumers from paying high prices and many from going hungry is what's at stake, he said.

“All the programs farmers have been utilizing and involved in and are familiar with for the last 5 farm bills, they all go away come midnight Oct. 1,” Bourget said.

Bourget said much of the bill protects farmers in tough times.

“If the milk bottoms out on prices, there's a safety net to hold that price from going out, and we'd lose a lot of dairy producers if in fact they didn't have a program to support that industry.”

Even more noticeable for many, would be higher grocery bills.

“What would happen to our food price? It would elevate considerably and very fast.”

“Food prices go up, I'm going to buy what's cheaper. I can buy ramen noodles but none of us wants to eat ramen noodles every day. We end up having to buy foods that we know don't contribute to good health,” Community Table director Rachel Keniston said.

Some legislators are proposing cuts to SNAP, better known as food stamps that currently help low-income people pay for food. It's something Keniston said could harm many who are already struggling.

“When I look at trying to meet that basic need, and eat in a way that makes me healthy enough to work and enjoy life, that doesn't go far enough. And if it's cut, then that jeopardizes my health, my ability to function and work, it's huge for folks,” Keniston said.

“There's a lot of differences in Washington as far as what we should and shouldn't do. So I guess we wait another couple two weeks and hopefully they'll sort this out,” Bourget said.

He said he hopes to see a new farm bill that takes a close look at the needs of the country and its farmers today, rather than one written more than five years ago.

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