A farm bill next year?
On Wednesday, Politico announced that there was no way both houses of Congress would be able to pass a comprehensive farm bill before adjourning for the holidays.
Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said, “We’re going to pass it in January,” to various media outlets. Her House counterpart, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) concurs. This is due not only to both houses’s lack of common ground on certain cuts, but also due to figures that the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t completed.
Instead of a bill, Lucas filed a six-page extension of current farm policy that would last until Jan. 31, 2014, so that at least the House would’ve had something to consider before it left Friday. However, both Stabenow and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have both said that a short-term extension won’t fly. According to an article in the New York Times, Stabenow said that extensions would allow direct payments to continue when both houses of Congress have been trying to cut it. (The direct payment program costs $5 billion a year.)
Members of the House and the Senate have been meeting to find some common ground. They agree that crop insurance should be expanded for farmers.
Both the House and the Senate have been hung up on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps), which experienced cuts this year.
There was a scare that if a farm bill hadn’t passed this year, then prices of milk would skyrocket. But the Ag Department said that that could be avoided if a bill is in place in January.
Rural America would really like another farm bill and the certainty that it brings. A farm bill, an extension or lack thereof, doesn’t just affect farmers. It also affects city-folk (like me and some of you reading this) when they go to the grocery store, too.