Farm Bill Faces Major Hurdles

The 2012 Farm Bill, which recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee, still faces serious hurdles, limiting the chance of its passage before the current bill expires. While Senate agricultural leaders have pledged to do what they can to make sure the vital legislation passes, many farmers remain pessimistic.

For the past several months, the farm bill has been stalled in Congress and mired in political gridlock. While President Barack Obama and Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have all reiterated the importance of the farm bill, the hostile climate in Washington has made it impossible to achieve significant progress on the bill.

Last month’s passage of the bill out of the Agriculture Committee, therefore, proved a major breakthrough. However, despite this recent achievement, the bill still faces serious hurdles before the September 30 deadline.

In the House, Republican leaders appear unwilling to accept the Senate bill’s spending requirements, hoping to increase spending cuts by several billion dollars. If the House refuses to compromise on farm spending, it is unlikely that a final bill will pass in time. Added to the difficulty is the House’s refusal to pass a bill before the Senate finalizes theirs.

Added to the political gridlock is a group of Southern Senators who may block the final passage of the bill. Some Southern farmers feel that the bill prioritizes the needs of Midwestern corn farmers at their expense, and while Stabenow is confident that she has the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to a vote, it is possible that angry Southern lawmakers could stage a filibuster.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer