No Major Progress in Farm Bill Talks

August 30, 2012 12:42 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

House GOP leadership resistance | Differences over food stamp funding

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

While some farm-state lawmakers and farm group lobbyists continue to push for House members to consider a farm bill shortly after they return Sept. 10 from their summer recess, there are no signs GOP House leadership will take up the measure.

Congress is expected to pass a short-term extension of the 2008 farm bill, with the extension timeline murky at this time, and the need for some budget offsets for any such extension also unclear.

Some see an extension to the end of 2012, allowing a new farm bill to be considered in the post-election, lame-duck session of Congress.

Major food stamp funding differences between the House and Senate continue to be a key policy issue in need of a compromise. The pending House farm bill would cut food stamp funding by $16.1 billion over ten years, with the Senate-passed farm bill cut of only $4 billion. While some lawmakers have indicated a $10 billion cut could be a compromise level, no such agreement has been made or officially offered, sources advise.

Some farm-state lawmakers and staff continue to discuss other policy differences between the two farm bill approaches, including the House-favored inclusion of a farmer choice for a safety net that includes a reference/target price approach, whereas the Senate does not include such an option.

Farm disaster aid push ahead. Meanwhile, Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has stated she may be willing to help push a farm disaster aid package from the House – if it is expanded to include fruits and vegetables.

Comments: During my trips to several states since Congress went on its long summer recess, I have seen no major push in farm-belt states regarding the farm bill. In fact, during my speeches, I find farmers are far more interested in other topics than the next farm bill, with the one exception being some livestock producers asking why Congress provides a major farm income safety net for crops but not them. And, some sources are asking why Stabenow is pushing for additional aid for fruit and vegetable growers when they already have protection available to them via some crop insurance programs. This week's record farm income forecast by USDA may also have an impact on the rush to a farm bill by self-interest farm groups. Lastly, I see very little if any impact of the Farm Bill Now coalition push for a new farm bill.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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