Farm Bill Window Closing

The possibility that Congress will pass a five-year farm bill this legislative session is becoming increasingly small, some congressional insiders say, as the leadership in Washington becomes increasingly concerned with budget battles and government shutdowns.

Despite some major delays, last year’s Congress came tantalizingly close to passing the 2012 Farm Bill. In the Senate, the full body passed a version of the bill while the House Agriculture Committee approved a draft version of the bill that was blocked by House GOP leadership, who refused to hold a full vote for the bill.

With a new Congress sworn in in January, all unfinished legislative work has restarted. While some rural politicians and farm advocacy groups had hoped to use the new year to refocus attention on agricultural concerns, recent budget fights have come to dominate political attention, dooming any chance of passing a new farm bill for at least the next few months.

On Friday, for example, sequestration budget cuts went into effect. At the end of the month, Congress and the President may face another government shutdown showdown. The idea that in the middle of these contentious fights, a $100 billion farm bill could be passed seems increasingly unlikely.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer