While some farm officials are privately despairing at the increasingly dim possibility that Congress will vote on the farm bill in the lame duck session, some political insiders believe that the farm bill could be the key to reaching a budget agreement and avoiding the impending fiscal cliff.
With impending tax increases and across the board spending cuts looming, Congress and President Barack Obama are scrambling to find about $2 trillion to eliminate from the federal budget in order to avoid automatic spending cuts in January.
With much of the post-election political narrative revolving around the fiscal cliff and what it could do to the halting economic recovery, many farmers believed that the farm bill has been shifted to the back burner and had reconciled themselves to a temporary expansion of the current bill.
Some legislators, however, are suggesting that the savings in the farm bill could serve as an important way to avoid the fiscal cliff. “There is a growing recognition that this could be part of the puzzle,” said North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad. “I think the farm bill can contribute to solving the fiscal cliff because it can achieve savings,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune.
While some lawmakers are considering using the budget battle to advance the farm bill, others are still skeptical that a bill will be able to pass the House and be reconciled between both chambers before heading to the White House.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer