Farm Bill extension could impact WV farmers

Nadia Ramlagan

Despite the extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, many federal agriculture programs West Virginia farmers depend on won’t be authorized to operate without passage of a new version of the legislation.

Agricultural producers continue to face rising operation costs and extreme weather events.

Spencer Moss, executive director of the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, explained that the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is one resource that faces uncertainty.

The program provides federal funding for non-commodities, such as strawberries and leafy greens.

“The West Virginia Department of Agriculture does a really cool thing,” said Moss, “and they re-grant that out to individual farmers, co-ops. We might actually see a pause in that program until the farm bill is reauthorized. “

The extension gives lawmakers until the end of 2024 to pass a new farm bill or greenlight another extension.

Congress also failed to reauthorize a new Farm Bill in 2012 by deadline, extending the 2008 version by months.

Moss said Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding depends on the next Farm Bill. In 2021, more than 151,000 West Virginia households depended on SNAP benefits to put food on the table.

“We actually have a really high usage rate, and it really staves off hunger in the state,” said Moss, “and it also puts millions of dollars into local businesses that accept SNAP EBT.”

The bill’s extension includes funding through next fall for farm programs and food assistance.

Funding for other programs, such as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program for low-income moms, is slated to run out sooner.