Dairy policy, a.k.a. the Dairy Security Act of 2012, was part of the 2012 Farm Bill bullet train that was supposed to deliver billions of savings as the Congressional Super Committee compromised its way to a $1 trillion in savings.
But as the Super Committee derailed over the weekend, so to the farm bill and dairy policy. At this early writing, it’s too soon to say with certainty what happens next.
The $23 billion in budget savings were important to the Super Committee. But now that talks have collapsed, there may be less pressure to move forward. On the other hand, if there is agreement at least within the ag community on those cuts, there may be some pressure to move forward and not allow those agreements to unravel.
"We see no reason Congress will want to rewrite the Farm Bill after making major decisions in the last few weeks. Why go throught that again?" says Chris Galen, National Milk Producers Federation spokesperson. "And the longer they wait, the worse the budget gets. We hope they act on the Farm Bill sooner rather than later."
But speculation from H Street is that the farm bill process will revert to “normal,” meaning it could require hearings from the Ag Committees and mark-up procedures that have been part of all farm bills since the beginning of, well, farm bills. There have been numerous calls from processors and individual Senators for hearings on dairy policy. And all of that would happen in the context of highly-politicized election year.
If those hearings drag on through the summer, it could well mean that Congress could opt out, sign a continuing resolution and take up the farm bill after the election—in 2013. Stay tuned.