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Farm Bill Passes House Committee

Marianne Morgan/

The house agriculture committee and the Senate have both passed versions of a new five year farm bill. Congress passed a 9 month extension to the current farm bill last year, but the he lack of long term farm bill is affecting conservation programs.

Paula Hingson is with the Illinois office of the Natural resources conservation service and administers the Wetland Reserve Program .

The WRP pays farmers to take wetlands out of production and then restore them.

Hingson said normally she would have begun work last year, but she didn’t find out until last week  how much money there would be for this year’s program.

She said the program was cut by 2 million dollars compared to last year.

The total amount of acres to be enrolled this year dropped to 850 from 1400 acres last year.

"So not quite half from what we had last year, a little better than half but it's still a pretty good reduction, the flip side to that is that we do actually have acres so that's a good thing."

The paperwork need to be processed by the end of September though she says the smaller amount of funding will mean fewer farmers can enroll land, which should lighten the workload a bit.

Once the full House passes the farm bill it will go to conference committee with the version already passed by the senate.

The current extension to the farm bill expires in September.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.