Baton Rouge, LA (WVLA, NBC 33) — The government shutdown left federal employees jobless for two weeks but soon, the government could leave our Louisiana farmers jobless, for a lot longer. Their livelihood depends on the farm bill and they're waiting for a new one to pass, before things get rough.
The farm bill is up for discussion on Wednesday but congress doesn't have much time to figure things out. If they don't pass a new bill or another extension, agriculture across our nation could suffer big time, especially the 250 thousand workers in Louisiana alone. It also means the public will be feeling the effects as well.
One local mom of two says if milk prices go up, her kid's nutrition will suffer and her budget will get tighter. Gina Madere is a single mother of two teenage boys.
"It costs me at least six to 700 dollars a month to feed my children.”
She says she would do anything to make sure they're fed and healthy.
“I would go out and work more in order to give them what they need wouldn't let them do without but more people won't be able to do that they would have to cut in other areas."
The issue is the farm bill. Congress made an extension a little less than one year ago and now that bill is back and a resolution needs to be reached.
“If this farm bill isn't renewed or extended these guys are probably going to be out of business and we don't want that to happen," said Jeff Kleinpeter.
Dairy farms like Kleinpeter could suffer even though they don't directly receive government subsidies.
“We buy a lot of seeds for our feed so if the cost of those seeds goes up, the cost of our milk would go up as well to produce it,” noted Kleinpeter.
If this bill is not passed we would revert to the previous bill set back in the 50's. Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain, says that just wouldn't work today.
“It’s just a logistically night mare if that were to happen,” said Dr. Strain. “Without a farm bill there is uncertainty, uncertainty causes lose of productivity, profitability and ultimately the farmers make less and the consumers pay more.”
Milk and wheat are listed on that bill and if they don't resolve this, milk could go up to over 8 dollars a gallon.
"People are not going to be able to afford it with the cost of living today," said Madere.
So single parents like Gina are ready to see Washington reach a common ground and pass this bill.
"It's going to affect the whole economy because it’s going to affect how people pay their bills on time or not. They are going to eat first. People are going to feed their families first."
Dr. Strain says they have no choice, something needs to be done.
"A comprehensive farm bill is a road map to the largest industry in Louisiana and in the United States."
The bill will be addressed on Wednesday in Washington. Commissioner Strain tells NBC33 they essentially need to reach a resolution before the holidays begin or things won't be looking positive. He also said an extension is far more possible than not passing anything at all but at this point anything could happen.