Facing uncertainty both at home and on a national level, more than 1,000 Louisiana farmers and ranchers are gathering in New Orleans for the annual Farm Bureau Convention with no Farm Bill in place and their state agriculture budget in tatters, The News-Star reports.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, the state’s only member of Congress on the House Agriculture Committee, says leadership has promised a vote on the Farm Bill as soon as Thursday, the opening day of the convention.
However, Congress killed the Farm Bill on the first vote of the spring with some lawmakers protesting work requirements for food stamps, which Abraham supports, and others using their votes as leverage for immigration bills. The immigration bills are also set to be debated Thursday or Friday, which would finally free up the Farm Bill.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have until June 27 to decide whether to pass enough new taxes to avoid a minimum 24% cut to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and its services.
Agriculture has annual $13 billion economic impact in Louisiana. Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says proposed budget cuts to his department threaten everything from fighting forest fires to food inspections and saltwater conservation.