Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Thursday 12/12/13

Negotiators Refuse to Let 2013 Farm Bill Pass Away

Updated information: Apparently, the 2013 farm bill is not quite dead. The paramedics have arrived and are using the defibrillator paddles in an attempt to, well, it's unclear what they are trying to save at this point.

Staff from the House Agriculture Committee stated that the House will debate HR 3695, the legislation to temporarily extend the 2008 farm bill. The House will debate the bill, with no amendments allowed, but is not scheduled to vote on it until Friday morning.

Jerry Hagstrom reported from D.C. late Wednesday that the principal negotiators from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are going to meet again today in one last attempt to revive the patient.

The House Rules Committee voted 9-3 on Wednesday to advance a HR 3695. That bill would extend the farm bill until the end of January.

In theory, the top negotiators may not want an extension all the way until the end of January if they can come to terms and bring a bill up as soon as Congress returns the first week of January. In theory, the House could also opt to stay working next week and pass a farm bill.

In reality, the 2013 farm bill is going to flat-line and transplant into the 2014 bill.

Either everyone gets an extension or USDA spends January trying to draft rules for permanent law to go into effect.

When asked Wednesday about his thoughts on the farm bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack used the analogy of being a guy still waiting for his wedding to start.

“I feel like a groom at the altar waiting for the bride to come down the aisle. Always hopeful, but I have yet to see her come down the aisle," Vilsack said.

While Washington is fixated with debates about base acres versus planted acres, farmers at the DTN/The Progressive Farmer Ag Summit raised other questions with me:

One, do farmers move base acres for cotton to other crops once the farm bill is passed? After all, cotton won't have a commodity program.

Two, given that the farm bill will go into January -- and likely at least February before a bill gets to the president -- would USDA have time to get the rules out for the Supplemental Coverage Option before farmers have to make their decisions for buying crop insurance in March? Or would SCO start in 2015?

Farmers had other questions that unfortunately about commodity programs that cannot be answered until Congress finally gets down to one bill.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.

Posted at 10:31AM CST 12/12/13 by Chris Clayton
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