LITTLE ROCK — The lack of a reauthorized farm bill is getting critical for Arkansas farmers who need to apply for crop loans, the president of Arkansas Farm Bureau said Wednesday.

LITTLE ROCK — The lack of a reauthorized farm bill is getting critical for Arkansas farmers who need to apply for crop loans, the president of Arkansas Farm Bureau said Wednesday.

"Producers are already lining up their finances for next year, and they have nothing, nothing to take to their lenders right now," Randy Veach told reporters after giving a talk on the farm bill at the organization’s annual convention in Little Rock. "The farm bill has expired, we don’t have an extension, we don’t have a new farm bill, so we have nothing right now."

Congress last approved a farm bill in 2008. That bill expired in 2012, but Congress passed a one-year reauthorization that expired Sept. 30 of this year.

The House and Senate have approved differing versions of a proposed farm bill. A conference committee that includes Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, has a Dec. 13 deadline to hammer out a compromise bill.

"It’s very critical, and every day that goes by it gets more critical that we have something that we can depend on, either a five-year comprehensive farm bill or an extension of this one that we can take to our lenders and get a crop loan," Veach said.

In his talk at the convention, Veach said that if Congress fails to pass a new farm bill or another extension, it would not only be farmers who suffer.

Without a new or reauthorized bill, the nation’s farm policy would revert to what is known as permanent law, a farm bill that was passed in 1938 and amended in 1949. That bill requires the government to buy products made from milk at a price based on what it cost farmers to produce milk decades ago, adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars, and that price is expected to affect the price of milk at grocery stores.

"You’d have to bring those prices on up, and that’s where you get your $7 and $8 a gallon on milk that would take place if you went back," Veach said.

Veach said the potential effect of reverting to the 1949 law is one of the main things that has motivated lawmakers — including those who do not represent heavily agricultural areas — to renew the farm bill in past years.

Another motivator, he said, has been the fact that since 1977 the farm bill has included funding for food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. However, the House’s proposed farm bill would take SNAP funding out of the bill, a move that the Arkansas Farm Bureau opposes.

"There are congressman that live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, some of those areas, that I promise you, they would like to never, ever see another farm bill again or have to vote one one," Veach said. "But when you do nutrition there, it affects all of them. That’s why it’s important to us to keep that coupled together."

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, supported separating nutrition assistance from the farm bill.

"We just have a disagreement on that one," Veach told reporters. "But he has been supportive of us in a lot of things, and we will continue to work with him."

The House has approved a bill that would cut SNAP funding by $39 billion over 10 years. The Senate has proposed cutting SNAP funding by $4 billion over the same period. Veach said food aid appears to be the biggest point of contention between the House and Senate, although they also differ on various aspects of farm supports.

One thing Veach said is encouraging is the presence of Boozman and Crawford on the conference committee.

"That’s a great opportunity for us in Arkansas, that we have those two in the conference," he said in his talk at the conference. "It’s a big plus for us."