U.S. Farm bill expires; Senate will address in November session

October 1, 2012

According to The Hill, the new farm bill has not been passed and as of Sept. 30, 2012, the 2008 version of the bill expired. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) demanded the House take up a new five-year farm bill on the first day of the November lame-duck session.

“In a year that has brought its share of challenges to America’s farmers and ranchers, the House Republicans have added new uncertainty for rural America. Unfortunately, House Republicans left Washington without passing comprehensive, multi-year food, farm, and jobs legislation, leaving thousands of farming families exposed,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “U.S. agriculture is fighting to maintain the tremendous momentum it has built over the past three years, but with natural disasters and other external forces threatening livelihoods of our farmers and ranchers, certainty is more important than ever. Americans deserve a food, farm, and jobs bill that reforms the safety net for producers in times of need, promotes the bio-based economy, conserves our natural resources, strengthens rural communities, promotes job growth in rural America, and supports food assistance to low-income families. Without the certainty of a multi-year bill, rural communities are being asked to shoulder undue burdens.”

While some provisions in the farm bill, such as food stamp delivery, won’t be affected by the lapse, it is possible that farm disaster relief will be on hold. In addition, dairy prices could be affected sooner.

The House Agriculture Committee this summer passed a five-year bill but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said there are not a majority of votes in the House to support it. The bill cuts $16 billion from food stamp spending, but contains fewer cuts to farm subsidies than even President Obama had sought.

The Senate version of the bill has $23 billion in deficit reduction but the cost of a generous crop insurance plan means it does not achieve the $32 billion in 10-year cuts that Obama sought in his budget. Supporters of the House bill have said there are enough votes to pass the House bill and House leaders, who have not conducted a formal whip count, just need to call a vote.

The Hill article

Vilsack statement