U.S. Congress passes 1-year farm bill extension

January 2, 2013

According to the Des Moines Register, on Jan. 1 the U.S. Congress agreed to extend parts of the expired 2008 Farm Bill through September as part of a last-minute package to avoid fallout from the “fiscal cliff.” The extension will prevent milk prices from surging in the coming weeks. Dairy subsidies under the 2008 farm bill expired at the end of 2012 and without a bill in place, prices paid by the government to farmers would revert back to higher 1949 levels.

“Rather than embrace the Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill which cuts $24 billion in spending and creates certainty for our agriculture economy, [Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell insisted on a partial extension that reforms nothing, provides no deficit reduction, and hurts many areas of our agriculture economy,” said Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

With the extension, Congress has extra time to work on and pass a new five-year $500 billion farm bill that so far has languished in Washington. The extension does not include disaster aid for farmers, mandatory funding for the energy component of the farm bill, specialty crops, or beginning farmers and ranchers.

The farm bill deal came just hours after an apparent deal between House and Senate agricultural leaders that would have extended the entire 2008 farm bill for a year. That broader proposal fell to the wayside during negotiations to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff.

House GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have been reluctant to vote on a larger five-year farm bill because of concerns they did not have the necessary support. The full Senate passed its bill in June, and the House Agriculture Committee passed its own measure a month later. The entire House never voted on either bill.

Des Moines Register article