Much concern has been expressed by the ag community over the potential for amendments on the floor of the House and Senate relative to the next U.S. farm bill. But indications are those fears could be for naught under a potential scenario laid out by sources that could mean a farm bill gets done without House or Senate floor farm bill action.
Here's how the scenario could play out: The product produced by the House and Senate Ag Committees could be "deemed" passed and then be moved to a conference committee to work out differences between the two plans. The main factor driving this potential option is the budget savings the panels are aiming at -- $23 billion in the Senate and up to $33 billion in the House.
Odds are high there will be a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress where several pending matters that could involve substantial spending will be taken care of, such as the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
Given that this post-election session is viewed as a potential setting for a return of the spend-happy ways of Congress, they will search for any budget offsets they can find to "pay" for provisions expected to be acted upon after the election.
Should such a development transpire, then ag interests would have little to fear from floor amendments to the bill.
Contacts say it also then would make what is eventually produced by the House Ag Committee even that much more important. Plus, it puts more focus on the issues that Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said she would work with lawmakers on to address their concerns - namely the issues of a safety net for southern rice and peanut producers.