Fiscal Cliff Offers Farm Bill Opportunity

The upcoming fiscal cliff in Congress may offer farmers their best shot at getting a new farm bill passed before 2013, some experts are predicting.

For most of the summer, despite pressure from both farm advocacy groups and a devastating drought that crippled production, the House of Representatives refused to take action on the farm bill. While the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passed versions of the bill in May and July respectively, the full House refused to vote on either of these drafts.

According to Speaker Boehner, the votes necessary to pass the bill were not available. According to some political insiders, however, the Speaker was unwilling to work with Democrats in an election year to pass a massive spending bill.

With the nation facing the prospect of major tax increases and across the board spending cuts occurring automatically in January (as part of the debt ceiling negotiations last year), politicians are eager to find a way to pass a bipartisan budget in a deeply divided Congress.

The House and Senate farm bills each offer significant savings through cuts to farm subsidies, nutritional spending, and conservation programs. The Senate bill proposes a more modest $23 billion in cuts (mostly from farm subsidies). The House bill would propose $35 billion, with $16 billion of this figure coming from cuts to the Food Stamp Program.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer