Alabama Farmers Waiting for New Farm Bill

Shep Morris has farmed most of his life and has lived through years of feast and famine. "The last two years have been tough," he says.

During those tough times, the farm bill provides a safety net for farmers like Morris. But the current bill expires Friday, and that means farmers are in the field without a game plan. "We're in the middle of May, well into planting, and we have no farm bill," Morris told WSFA 12 News.

The bill is the farmer's blue print - guidelines that give growers an idea of what to plant and how much. Morris just returned from Washington D.C. where he pushed lawmakers to pass the new farm bill. "Its and long-term commitment and we need stability," he said.

ALFA Communications director Jeff Helms says the group activated farmers across the state to rally support for the bill.  He tells WSFA 12 News, "We expect the Alabama delegation will support it."

If congress approves the plan, it's still not a done deal. The president has threatened to veto the farm bill because, he says, crop subsidies cost too much.  However, Helms says the bill contains significant reforms "to make even stricter the requirements of what farmers can receive."

He and Morris say the bill is a small price to pay to keep food on the tables of Americans. "People go to the supermarket and don't see a food shortage. There is plenty of everything; that's because of the stability."

Helms adds, the bill is about more than farmers. It provides additional funding for nutrition programs like the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Plan. It gives seniors vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.