Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Monday 12/31/12

Congress Scrambles to Pass Farm Bill Extension

Sometime today House leaders will concede they need to adopt a farm-bill extension.

Who would have thought Congress could lead us to New Year's Eve merely to pass an extension of legislation on farm programs?

As reports out of Washington reported Sunday, three bills have been filed with the House Clerk. One is a one-year extension crafted again by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The other two bills are one-month extensions advocated by House leaders.

You have to credit the dysfunctional nature of the House that leaders would once again throw rocks in the final hours of the year at the only committees in Congress working on a bi-partisan, bi-cameral nature seeking to find middle ground on complex policy options.

Politico reported Sunday that House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., stood his ground in a caucus meeting Sunday as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, referred to the dairy provisions in the extension as "communism."

The Dairy Security Act provides farmers with a voluntary program meant to manage supply, thus helping curb the price collapses that have riddled the industry.

The one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill adds $986 million in spending to the baseline costs for USDA programs mainly through special disaster programs added back into the legislation.

Disaster aid for livestock producers and specialty crop programs are projected to cost $664 million, according to a Congressional Budget Office projection released Sunday.

The CBO also projected a $60 million savings in dairy programs with the addition of the Dairy Security Act.

Below are some statements from House and Senate Ag leaders on Sunday:

House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas:

"Clearly, it is no longer possible to enact a five-year farm bill in this Congress. Given this reality, the responsible thing to do – and the course of action I have long encouraged if a five-year bill was not possible – is to extend the 2008 legislation for one year. This provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions.

"The legislation posted is the result of discussions with Ranking Member Peterson and my colleagues in the Senate. It is not perfect – no compromise ever is – but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President by January 1."

House Ag Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn:

“Given House Republican leaders’ repeated opposition to a five-year farm bill, House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership has worked together to write an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill which includes much-needed reforms to the dairy industry. These reforms are the primary reason that I am even willing to consider any extension.

“I remain opposed to other efforts that would fail to reform the dairy safety net. Given the improbability that both the House and Senate can enact long-term farm policy into law within the next 30 days, the 30 day extension approach is a poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty, just more empty promises from the Republican leadership.”

Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich:

“While the Senate passed a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill in June that cut subsidies and reduced the deficit, the lack of action by the House Republican leadership has put us in a situation where we risk serious damage to our economy unless we pass a temporary extension.

“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. 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.”

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 9:36AM CST 12/31/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
Senator Stabenow discloses in her statement the true intent of the "Food Bill". Stop milk prices from spiking! etal.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 6:49PM CST 12/31/12
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