Stopgap Farm Bill Measure Passes House

House of Representatives Pass Farm Bill Measure through end of January 2014
A stopgap farm bill measure designed to extend the current farm bill until January 31 recently passed the House and is moving onto the Senate. While many senators oppose the measure, its House supporters claim it is necessary in order to protect ongoing House-Senate farm bill negotiations.
For more than a year, the farm bill has been trapped in legislative limbo. With Democrats and Republicans (controlling the Senate and House respectively) at odds over cuts to nutritional subsidies, the bill has languished, with neither side able to reach an agreement on food stamps funding.
Despite a series of delays, the farm bill finally appeared close to passage. With the House and Senate both passing alternative versions of the bill, a congressional conference committee met to hammer out differences between the competing legislation.
Despite this momentum, the bill appears once again stuck. While conference members are willing to compromise on farm subsidy cuts, restricting access to farm loans, and crop insurance reform, food stamp funding has once again stalled progress on the farm bill.
The constant delays may once again threaten farmers’ access to federal subsidies and loan programs. At the end of the year, currently authorized and funded programs will expire. Without a new farm bill to replace these expired programs, federal farm policy will revert to 40s era legislation, which would be a disaster for farmers and consumers. For some agricultural goods, prices would skyrocket (with federal guidelines restricting production and increasing costs), while many farmers would lose access to farm subsidies and farm loans, removing a valuable safety net that keeps many farmers in business.
In order to prevent this, the House recently passed a temporary extension of the current farm bill. While this extension, unlike last years’, would only extend the bill until the end of January, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee argue that it would once again increase costs to taxpayers. In particular, it would extend the direct payment subsidy program (at the cost of about $5 billion a year). House members, however, argue that continued access to farm loans would be worth the temporary access to wasteful subsidies.
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