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Farm Aid Music Festival returns to Indiana as farmers face uncertain future

Owner, Founder and farmer of Tyner Pond Farm, Chris Baggott. (Provided photo/Scott Streble)

NOBLESVILLE, In. (WISH) — The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is set to expire on Sept. 30. It’s the most recent, five-year farm bill that impacts farming families, what they grow, and how they grow it.

Farm Aid is a non-profit focused on sustaining family farms and land — this weekend, bringing its mission directly to central Indiana to shine a light on family farms and the impact they have on food access, communities, and sustainability.

Farm Aid notes during Saturday’s festival, the non-profit will be “highlighting the advocacy work of our partners and making the voices of family farmers heard during this crucial time in the Farm Bill process.”

There are two principal expiration dates on the bill. The first expiration hits Sept. 30, with the second on Dec. 31. These expirations could affect funding programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and any programs that require funding from the Farm Bill. According to the Congressional Research Service, dairy farmers would be the first to feel the immediate impact.

Roman Keeney, Purdue University associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, predicted the difficulties of the 2023 Farm Bill earlier this year, noting it would “arguably be the most discussed bill in agriculture this year.”

In Keeney’s Ag Econ Policy Brief Series, he says the priorities of the 2023 Farm Bill will be the projected costs of farm and nutrition programs over the next 10 years — making it “a target for federal spending cuts. Successfully passing the bill depends on insulating it from the broader debate over the size of government.”

Fast forward several months from Keeney’s briefing, the difficulty of passing the bill is compounded by the looming government shutdown that will, no doubt, take priority.

Currently, the agriculture committees in the House and Senate are writing their own Farm Bills. Once they pass, they’ll need to agree on one combined bill. Congress will then vote. If passed, it will go to President Biden for his signature. However, this is all but certain to take a backseat to the looming government shutdown and efforts by Congress to prevent it. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Commission points out, this is such a contentious process the deadlines are often not met. In that case, it’s possible lawmakers can pass a “continuing resolution” that will temporarily extend current funding.

Farm Aid Music Festival kicks off Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Ruoff Music Center. Music headliners include Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and many other legendary acts. There will be educational and interactive booths with concessions featuring ingredients from local family farms. A few featured local vendors include Fischer Farms, Traders Point Creamery, and Tyner Pond Farms — supplying everything from sustainably farmed seafood to organic produce and grass-fed beef.

More on the Farm Aid Music Festival can be found here.