Deadline passes for new farm bill; grocery prices could increase

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WARREN — The deadline for a new farm bill has passed after the House and Senate couldn't agree on the terms, and the result could be an increase in the price of groceries.

Farmers in northern Utah said that milk could raise to $7 a gallon, but they doubt that Congress would allow the stalemate to continue for that to happen. Scott and Trevor Wayment own and operate a fourth-generation dairy farm in Warren, and they said if the House and Senate can't agree on a new farm bill, a very antiquated law would go into effect.

Congress was supposed to pass the bill in 2012, but after a stalemate, a one-year extension was passed. However, if the House and Senate can't agree, the permanent farm law set around 1938 would set grocery prices based on parity with the current market.

The law is so outdated that consumers could end up paying unheard of prices for produce and dairy products.

"When you put this in the hands of the United States Congress, I think we're at risk of a whole lot of things," said Utah Farm Bureau CEO Randy Parker.

Parker said that ideally a new bill should make prices more reasonable for farmers and consumers.

"I think when you look at that in the big picture, it's a consumer protection bill because we want food security for Americans going forward," Parker said.

We have some bad years, and some good years. And we'd like to see that balance out a little better. Not too many people get rich in the business.

–Scott Wayment

Scott and his son, Trevor, run a family business. Their dairy farm has around 500 head of cattle and a couple hundred acres.

"We're a four generation farm," Scott said. "We might be management, but we're out doing the work too."

Trevor said that it is hard to make a profit in the farming industry.

"Half the years, it's just hard to break even," he said. "We have ups and downs. We try to float through the bad years, and make up for them in the good years."

The Wayments hope a new farm bill will bring measures that would provide more market stability.

"It comes and it goes," Scott said. "We have some bad years, and some good years. And we'd like to see that balance out a little better. Not too many people get rich in the business."

About 15 to 20 percent of the farm bill will actually go towards agriculture, and the rest would deal with food programs, like food stamps and WIC.

The extension for the current bill expired at the end of September, and the Wayments said they're also concerned the shutdown could affect confidence in the U.S. from countries that import agricultural products grown in America.


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