Farm Bill at Critical Moment

With the lame duck session rapidly coming to a close, rural lawmakers and farm advocacy groups believe that next week might be their best, and last chance to pass a new farm bill.

For the past several months, the farm bill has been stalled in Congress. Despite the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee both passing versions of the bill over the summer, the House refused to hold a full vote. With most congressional attention diverted to the fiscal cliff, some farmers are worried that there might not be enough rural influence left to refocus attention onto the farm bill.

The last real hope for a new farm bill is that Congress includes it in the upcoming budget negotiations. However, in order to do that, the House and Senate would need to agree on a single version of the bill and would need to iron out key differences between both chambers’ proposed bill. In particular, the fight over food stamp funding may be the bill’s undoing. The House has demanded more than four times the amount of Senate food stamp reductions, and many Senators have pledged to refuse to budge on further nutritional cuts.

Both houses, however, realize that time is quickly running out. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has already sent out feelers to the House to see if both chambers can agree on a single bill in order to attach it to fiscal cliff legislation.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer