Timeline for New Farm Bill, As Usual, Remains Murky

September 12, 2012 08:49 AM

Via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

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

Will it be 2012 or 2013? It may depend on the presidential election.

Guessing the time when the frustrating farm bill process will be completed has been thrown into even more uncertainty with the coming election and continued visceral attitudes prevalent among the two main political parties in Washington.

A group of farm bill lobbyists trying to pressure Washington today will have about as much influence on the process in the as the New Orleans Saints had in trying to stop the Washington Redskins and their new rookie quarterback, based on interviews with several sources.

Those far-more inside the farm bill process - which means they are likely really outside - signal the final decision depends on several key factors, including the final decision of House GOP leaders, but especially House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

A signal, some say, could come when a final decision is made on whether or not and for how long a 2008 Farm Bill extension is included in the coming continuing resolution.

If any farm bill extension is for only three months, some sources predict, that would up the odds that house leaders want the farm bill completed by the end of 2012 and most likely during the post-election lame-duck session of Congress.

A one-year farm bill extension, those sources signal, would up the odds the new bill end zone would be pushed into 2013 because pressure would be lessened to get it done on an accelerated timeline. And, others note, Washington is good at kicking the can down the road and postponing difficult decisions.

If a six-month extension is the result, that would leave farm bill timing still murky -- signaling a potential 2012 or 2013 finish.

As for the presidential election, a growing number of observers say if Republican candidate Mitt Romney wins, and the Senate gets a GOP majority, Republican leaders in Congress would likely want to punt the farm bill conclusion into 2013. Besides, some add, outgoing president Obama would not likely want to compromise on tax issues and other issues like the farm bill.

If Obama wins, the reasoning goes that it would up the odds for a series of compromises during the 4-6 week lame-duck session and that could include the farm bill conclusion.


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