Despite widespread pessimism, some farmers remain hopeful that an 11th hour farm bill can still be passed before the current bill expires in September.
Earlier this week, former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner told an Illinois audience that he didn’t believe a new farm bill was possible due to budget pressures and election year politics. Budget battles were particularly difficult hurdles to overcome, Conner claimed. Last November, a bipartisan committee on debt reduction, called the supercommittee, failed to pass sweeping spending cuts. Included in this omnibus legislation was a new farm bill, which failed along with the rest of the budget deal.
As 2012 drags on, farmers are getting increasingly worried. At the end of September, only six months away, the 2008 Farm Bill will expire and along with it the various federal support programs and agricultural funding packages.
However, pressure from the agricultural sector may be speeding up the farm bill debates. The House and Senate promise that they will pass a new bill before the old bill expires and appear to be pushing up the timetable. The Senate has already held several agricultural hearings, even moving several up on the calendar.
In addition, some farmers hope that election year politics may work out in their favor. Senator Debbie Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is from a major agricultural state. She, and other agricultural senators of the ag committee, may feel pressured to pass a new bill or face an angry electorate come election day.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer