Washington D.C., October 1, 2013 –Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of the American Farmland Trust, the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land, today issued this statement in response to the shutdown of the federal government and the failure of Congress to reauthorize the federal Farm Bill--
“Congress has allowed the federal Farm Bill to expire, ending the legal authorization for the federal government to administer our nation’s most basic and important farm programs. The Farm Bill helps farmers reduce costs and protect the environment on millions of acres of farmland, forests and rangeland across the United States.
“On top of this, Congress has also shut down the federal government and furloughed thousands of agriculture-related agency employees, denying family farmers the technical assistance and hands-on help they need to run their businesses and protect farmland.
“One of these failures would be a hardship, but manageable if it did not last long. Taken together, the lack of action on these critical issues means agricultural programs are not only without people to administer them, but they are now without authorization to even exist.
“The American Farmland Trust believes the lack of action is causing significant confusion in the farm economy, the nation’s largest industry, and uncertainty among farmers who rely on these programs to operate efficiently and economically. Ultimately, we fear, the price of these twin failures will be seen by every consumer in the supermarket checkout line.”
“American Farmland Trust calls on Congress to fund the government and to pass a comprehensive five-year Farm Bill.”
For more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland Trust and how you can become involved, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.