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Next federal money crisis could aid farm bill

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The current federal government shutdown overshadowed the end of many federal farm laws Tuesday, but the next federal fiscal crisis could lead to a stalled farm bill’s resurrection.

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At least that is the hope of many from farm country who see $24 billion in savings contained in the farm bill as part of the answer to continual federal money woes.

The shutdown came about because Congress could not pass a budget by its Oct. 1 deadline. Next up is the mid-October problem of the country hitting the maximum amount allowed for debt, meaning the federal government would need to stop borrowing money or chop programs.

“This is the pitch I am working with everybody I can: Government funding is now getting tied to the debt ceiling,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said.

“To get a debt-ceiling agreement, we are going to have to find some savings and reforms.”

As Congress and President Barack Obama look to solve budget problems, those from heavy farm areas increasingly are playing up the chance to piggyback the farm bill on the debt situation since the proposals save money.

On the other hand, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said that if the farm bill is linked to broader budget talks, congressional leadership could make most farm bill decisions instead of those on agriculture committees. “That is not a good situation.”

Agriculture leaders and politicians said they have heard of relatively few problems in the first days without many of the farm laws.

But after Jan. 1, milk prices could soar and lack of a farm bill will make planning difficult for the country’s farmers and ranchers.

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