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Farm Bill Heading to 2014

by Mike Austin


Just like the weather, stories about the prospects of a new long term farm bill seem to be changing daily.Take this week as a prime example. On Tuesday we hear that even though the Senate is still on vacation, the Ranking Republican Member and the Senate Ag Committee Chairperson have come to meet with their house counterparts to see if they can knock off at least the framework for a new long term farm bill. Then a day later, more optimism when Conference Committee Chair Frank Lucas says no deal is done, but  great progress is being made and left alone, they would soon have a bill. Then a day later all that optimism is snuffed out when Speaker Boehner says he's heard nothing of any significant progress and says he is going to recess the House on time and that he will push for a one month extension of the 2008 farm bill. And if the conferees can get it done the House would address a new farm bill in January.

One thing though, any extension would have to be also approved by the Senate and their leadership has voiced strong opposition to an extension. Although perhaps they would agree to a one month extension just to avoid the possibility of letting the current farm bill expire and once again be faced with the so-called dairy cliff of soaring consumer milk prices.

Meanwhile Lucas and the Conferees seem willing to work through the holiday break to get a bill done that they can send on to the two houses early in January. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this saga.