September 21 was the last day Congress was scheduled to be in session until after the November elections. So the Senators and Representatives departed Washington D.C. and headed home to campaign, without passing a new five-year farm bill or an extension of the current law. However, USDA programs do not automatically end on September 30. Mindy Larson Poldberg, director of government relations for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, provides the following explanation.
Most of the commodity programs expire at the end of the 2012 crop year which for most crops is late in 2013. However, the deadline for effective dairy support is January 1, 2013. The federal crop insurance program would not be impacted because it is currently authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act and does not need to be reauthorized under the farm bill.
A recent Congressional Research Service report states that, "for many conservation programs, program authority is often permanent but the authority to receive mandatory funding expires at the end of FY2012. Without an extension of mandatory funding, new contracts or agreements likely could not be approved. But all existing contracts and agreements (including long-term easements) would stay in force." So Conservation Reserve Program contracts would remain in place, but no new contracts could be signed.
ICGA supports passage of a new five-year farm bill and will continue pushing for it
What about the CSP? Mandatory funding authority for the Conservation Stewardship Program does not expire until 2014. Technically, funding for this program could still be available until that time, but the Continuing Resolution (CR), that will be passed by Congress this week, effectively prevents new enrollments in the CSP, along with the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Program. The food stamp program (SNAP) will expire on September 30. However, appropriators have allowed the program to continue to pay benefits through early next year because funds were appropriated in the CR for SNAP.