3 Scenarios for the Election’s Impact on the Farm Bill

November 1, 2012 12:09 AM
3 Scenarios for the Election’s Impact on the Farm Bill

Will a Republican sweep of Congress and the White House help or hurt the odds of passing the farm bill in the lame-duck session?

The winners of next week’s congressional and presidential elections will be responsible for the future of the 2012 farm bill.

There are millions of possibilities for what will happen after the election, says Pat Westhoff, director of FAPRI at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Speaking at the 2012 Doane Agriculture Outlook Conference, Westhoff described three possibilities and their results.

Scenario 1: President Obama is re-elected, Democrats retain Senate, Republicans retain House

  • No reason to put off hard decisions on "fiscal cliff"
  • Could result in deal on taxes, sequester, and maybe even the farm bill
  • Farm bill could be compromise between Senate and House Ag. Committee bills
  • But 2008 bill provisions might be kept in place for 2012
  • Hard to guess budget level—could be larger cuts, at least relative to Senate bill


Scenario 2: Gov. Romney wins election, Republicans take Senate and hold House

  • Lame duck Congress probably does little beyond delay decisions until 2013
  • Might mean a full restart for the farm bill debate in 2013
  • Most important legislation of 2013: budget reconciliation
    • Could include tax reform
    • Could Include major budget cuts, including in agriculture
    • Procedural advantage: cannot be filibustered in Senate
    • Means could pass with few or no Democratic votes
    • Might completely scramble farm program debate


Scenario 3: Either the Presidency or Senate changes party, but not both

  • Scrambles situation without leaving either party firmly in control
  • Probably makes it hard to achieve substantive agreements during the lame duck session
  • Increases likelihood of a one-year extension of current farm bill provisions
  • But perhaps with some budget cuts (e.g., smaller or no direct payments)

Westhoff says the first scenario is the most predictable one. "There’s no political incentive to put decisions off."

He believes the second scenario, with the Republican sweep, will make passing the farm bill very difficult.

If a farm bill is not passed, Westhoff says the dairy programs will receive the most negative impact. If Congress is unable to take some action, farm policy could revert back to 1949 permanent law.

"It will be a mess. There’s an incentive to pass something between now and Jan. 1."

View a copy of Westhoff's presentation.

For More Information
Read more news and coverage of the 2012 farm bill.


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Spell Check

11/3/2012 05:35 AM

  I certainly will not nor could I equate myself with the vast majority of men and women who grow the largest share of our crops, but I am a man who grows, and eats, and is concerned where we will go after this election. As most of us have made up our minds, there is no need or desire for a partisan voice and opinion. What I will voice is my sense of where we aren't going. Regardless of what we do, we don't live in a vacuum and this election is as much about how we live as anything else. I for one want some stability, and frankly I'm getting a bit worn out with the lack of progress on legislation that impacts us all. Whoever is elected to the highest office will certainly have a hand in our future, but if we want to move ahead or even just maintain, it is his House he'll have to keep in order. I feel that now, as much as anytime in my life, and I'm no spring chicken, we need to get a Congress, on both sides of the aisle, that will give us some help instead of posing as the "loyal opposition" If we want any advancement we have to vote for those who will bring us progress, but whatever else we have to vote with intelligence, not allegiance. If we take a stand in our best interests, not theirs, we can all live with the consequence. We have to vote for "us" and not "them". Whatever else, we are citizens of a free country, but to keep our freedom and keep our country, we must all vote.


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