Local farmers watching farm bill closely - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local farmers watching farm bill closely

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THOMPSONVILLE -- Congress will soon begin writing the 2018 Farm Bill, which will be one of the largest and potentially most controversial pieces of legislation this year.

Local farmers like Larry Miller are watching closely.

"This is a difficult time for farmers. Our costs, they just continue to go up," Miller said.

Miller said the most important thing area farmers want to see in the farm bill is a strong crop insurance program. 

"We've had that now in the last two bills and it really has changed farming and security of farming," said Miller.

But some groups have criticized crop insurance, saying the amount the government spends on it is unsustainable.

Miller said fights over different components of the bill could threaten the whole thing. 

"The challenges right now is just the issues in Congress and the political climate," said Miller.

Another contentious issue may be over proposed changes to food stamps. 

While Congress cut food stamps by nearly $9 billion in the last farm bill, the Trump administration wants to go further.

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says they will not support deeper cuts. 

As Congress fighters over issues like these, Miller will keep a close watch, because he says the stakes for farmers this year are greater than they were four years ago.

"It's a completely different atmosphere," he said.

What Congress does over the next few months will make it better or worse.

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