Super-Failure Restarts Farm Bill

The failure of Congress’s budget super-committee, a bipartisan collection of Senators and Representatives charged with trimming nearly $2 trillion from the federal budget, will most likely restart the Farm Bill process. Earlier this week, the super-committee failed to reach a November deadline to reduce federal spending, a failure that could trigger across the board budget cuts.

While the failure of the committee may very well trigger painful spending reductions, it also appears to have restarted the Farm Bill. The bill, renewed every five years, had been drafted and passed behind closed doors by the House and Senate agricultural committees. The bill was then included in the super-committee’s budget negotiations and, if passed, would have gone into law with virtually no debate or transparency.

The proposed bill was controversial, in part because of its secrecy. In addition to this lack of transparency, environmental groups criticized the reductions to conservation programs, social justice groups criticized sharp reduction in nutritional programs (such as Food Stamps), and many farmers criticized the elimination of direct farm subsidies.

The failure of the expedited super-committee process means that Congress will need to rely on a more traditional legislative approach involving writing, rewriting, debating, and amending potential bills. This process will only be made more difficult as Senators and Representatives return to their home districts during the upcoming election cycle.

The programs and provisions from the last Farm Bill are set to expire in 2012.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer