Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hello New Year (Goodbye Farm Bill?)

Messaging coming out of House Speaker John Boehner's office this week, while not the final nail in the 2012 Farm Bill coffin, certainly has closed the coffin lid with a resounding thud.  POLITICO on Tuesday quoted a Boehner aid as saying, "If we can agree on a top-line number, we suspect the committees will have a much easier time getting to a (farm) bill next year under regular order,” after describing how difficult it would be for the House to agree to the Farm Bill's inclusion in any year-end fiscal cliff deal (a deal which, it should be pointed out, is itself tenuous at the moment).  On the back end of that news, Bloomberg news reports that the House Agriculture Committee leaders are already making plans to start anew in 2013 on the Farm Bill, with consideration of the bill likely to begin in late February.

The provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill lapsed on September 30 of this year, and to provide critical short-term program authority it appears more and more likely that a stop-gap bill or bills will be necessary to reinstate already-expired conservation programs and to prevent federal farm policy from reverting automatically to  provisions contained in the initial federal farm policy legislation passed in 1949.  Those interim authorities could potentially be included in any fiscal cliff legislation.  For more detailed coverage of this issue, please see the various articles included under the "Farm Bill" section of the Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week blog post.

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