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Farm Bill May Cause Problems for Local Farmers

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - The fiscal cliff crisis has many people worried, especially West Tennessee farmers.

A bill wrapped up in the fiscal cliff could drastically change the price of products that are farm produced.

Local farmer Jimmy Stanford said the impact of the bill could put his future crops in jeopardy.

"I don't think a lot of farmers realize the impact of the farmer bill, if we don't get one pretty quick, how much it's going to affect us" Stanford said.

The bill keeps prices of farm products low despite a disappointing crop season, or inflation due to supply and demand.

Failure to pass the bill would directly affect the prices residents pay for groceries.

Jackson resident Laurie Moore said if food prices do rise, feeding her family healthy food would become a burden.

"Prices are extemrely high anyway. Eggs, milk...milk is already high. Eggs are going up more and more.I don't know what to say, it's just ridiculous," Moore said.

The impacts of this bill could be huge for Tennessee. The state has 91,000 farms, and just one farmer supplies 97 people in the United States and 32 overseas.

"A lot of people don't realize it's going to hurt the economy overall if we don't get this thing done and quickly," said Stanford.

Without the bill's passage, farmers would be unable to get financing for crops and crop insurance, further adding to the price of their products.

Bank of Jackson CEO Gary Grisham feels a failure to pass the bill would be problematic for all Tennesseans.

"Individuals are already stretched pretty thin today and having to pay more is only going to add to that burden and keep the economy in a recession," Grisham said.

Not passing the farm bill could also impact school lunches, food stamps and the price of clothing.

"We eat a lot of cereal. We use a lot of milk, we use a lot of eggs," said Moore.

The Tennessee Agriculture Bureau said if not resolved, the price of milk could rise to triple the current price.

The farm bill is set to expire January 1, 2013.
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