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Global demand for food and fuel is rising, and the push and pull for resources has serious ramifications for our country’s economic recovery and prosperity.How much do you know about that bread you just buttered or that steak you just ate? What do you know about cars powered on ethanol or about how fracking will affect your water supply?Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR, is a collaborative public media project that reports on important agriculture issues in the Midwest.To learn more, visit, like Harvest Public Media on Facebook or follow @HarvestPM on Twitter.

As 2013 Comes To A Close, Still No Farm Bill

Frank Morris
Harvest Public Media
Western Kansas farmer John Thaemert stands in a field of parched wheat. The plants would reach his waist by now in a normal year.

For the second straight year, farmers are heading into a new year without a farm bill. The massive package provides government support for farmers and ranchers. But, divisions in Congress, including over the nutrition programs that make up the bulk of the spending, have kept it from the president’s desk.

Farmers say it’s difficult to plan their crops and make other business decisions without a farm bill. Instead, Iowa State University agricultural economist Chad Hart says farmers must focus on the information they have.

"There’s a lot of uncertainty about the government policy that supports agriculture," says Hart. "But you know as far as making those business decisions on the farm, I would argue the more important things are the things that they do know and can control."

Hart says local prices, futures markets, and a field’s past performance are good influences for short-term decision making. But over the long haul, some of the federal unknowns need to be resolved.

Lawmakers say they hope to pass a new five-year farm bill early in January. But farmers are left to wait.

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