Some 10,000 men and women work in Arizona's agriculture business, including hundreds right here in the Valley, and many are counting down the days in September, when the federal farm bill expires.
"Whether you're in agriculture or building widgets, you have to know what the future holds, and we don't know right now," said Scottsdale farmer Kevin Rogers.
Rogers and his family farm is about 6000 acres, where they grow corn, cotton and alfalfa. He said though he has been back-and-forth to Washington, D.C., trying to lobby congress to pass the bill, it is unlikely to be voted on by the end of September.
"Congress hasn't done their job. They've dropped the ball so it's leaving agriculture in a lurch and leaving this country in a lurch," said Rogers.
Parts of the bill provide assistance for farmers dealing with droughts or other emergencies, but about 80 percent of the bill also pays for federal food assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
"If that is not reorganized and they don't have the money for SNAP, then there are a lot of problems that is going to cause for people," explained ASU Agriculture and Business professor Tim Richards.
Richards said that could affect many people in Arizona. More than 1 million are on food assistance programs. However, despite the current delay, he expects lawmakers to reach an agreement, even if it is after the Sept. 30 deadline.
"Agriculture always has an outsized political influence, beyond its role in the economy. Politically it's huge," the professor said.
Richards said the average consumer not on food assistance programs likely would not see a difference in food prices. Farmers hope the bill is reenacted after the November elections.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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