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Farm Bill Extensions Crafted; Fiscal Cliff Worries Remain

13:41PM Dec 30, 2012

Three farm bill extensions have been filed this weekend in an effort to prevent problems in the agriculture sector as a result of any fiscal cliff fallout, media reports say. Meanwhile, ag leaders in Washington are urging Congress to act before milk prices rise and funding to programs is cut.

"The three bills, posted late Saturday night on the House Clerk’s website, are each candidates to be called up Monday," Politico reports. "But together they testify most to the continued tension between the GOP’s top brass and (House Speaker John) Boehner’s old haunt: the House Agriculture Committee."

Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack continues to urge Congress to get a farm bill passed to stabilize milk prices and preserve the SNAP program, previously known as food stamps. He expressed dismay in an interview with CNN about congressional inaction on the issue.

In a statement Sunday afternoon, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) expressed hope that agriculture policy can move forward, if only incrementally.

"If a new Farm Bill is not passed in the next few days, Agriculture Committee leaders in both chambers and both parties have developed a responsible short-term Farm Bill extension that not only stops milk prices from spiking, but also prevents eventual damage to our entire agriculture economy," Stabenow says. "It is critical that we pass a five-year Farm Bill that gives farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to plan for the future. If a new Farm Bill doesn’t pass this Congress we’ll soon hold another mark-up and just keep working until one is enacted next year."