Farm Bill Stuck

Farm officials in Congress are acknowledging that the 2012 Farm Bill may be officially stuck, political insiders report, and that a new bill will not be passed before the September 30 expiration. The announcement represents the most pessimistic prediction about the future of the farm bill in recent months and may have serious reverberations across the farm community.

Despite months of political pressure from farm lobbyists and ordinary Americans, the chance of passing a new farm bill by the end of September appears doubtful. While the Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill back in May, this bill was not taken up by the House of Representatives (whose Republican leaders believed it contained too much social spending and too few farm subsidies). The House has taken a lackadaisical attitude towards their version of the bill, passing a draft out of the Ag Committee only in July and stalling a full floor vote ever since.

While some Representatives (especially those in rural districts) have been pushing hard for a vote on the bill (with some representatives even attempting to bypass House leadership and force the bill to the floor through a discharge petition), these attempts seem likely to fail.

“We’re stuck at the moment,” said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. “All we need is a bill from the House … we could negotiate during October and pass it when we get back in November.” These comments reflect a stunning change in attitude from the same Stabenow who in August refused to rule out passing a new bill by the end of the month.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer