Farm Bill Remains Uncertain

Several members of the House of Representatives are warning farmers that the prospects of a new farm bill are still shaky. According to Texas representative Mike Conaway, anyone betting on either the passage of a new bill or the extension of the current “could lose money either way.”

Debates over the new farm bill have been raging in Congress for months, with politicians in both parties and in both houses vehemently disagreeing on the nature of the upcoming bill. In addition to standard political disagreements, the farm bill renewal falls in the middle of presidential and congressional elections, leaving many politicians too distracted to devote their full attention to agricultural issues.

The internal bureaucracies of Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, could further undermine the swift passage of a new bill. According to Conaway, passing a new bill includes “a lot of moving parts,” and the ability of any representative to add amendments to House legislation makes it particularly difficult to quickly pass legislation.

Added to this gridlock is a partisan divide between the House and Senate, controlled by the Republican and Democratic parties respectively. Neither house is eager to pass a bill that will be rejected in their opposing branch.

Despite these worries, Conaway is confident that the current federal farm programs will not expire. “We will struggle with the farm bill over the next few months,” he said. “If we can’t get a full one we’ll extend it, probably for a year, which has been done in the past.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer