I am starting to think all articles about the farm bill should begin with some familiar phrase such as "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives."
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was asked near the end of a weekly press conference with agriculture reporters when conference talks between the House and Senate should begin on the farm bill. "Yesterday" was the response.
Yet, the farm bill that was expected to get attention this fall is likely once again to be set aside for battles such as what to do about Syria and how to keep the federal government running with a continuing resolution on the budget.
"I was told late yesterday that Syria is going to put the farm bill on the backburner," Grassley said. "I don't think that is justified, but that's what I was told."
Grassley said there is no reason the House and Senate could not conference on the farm bill now, even without House action on nutrition cuts. Still, if the House did pass its nutrition programs, the negotiations could be a little easier to figure out.
Effectively, the big stumbling block for the farm bill will be coming to terms on nutrition cuts. Grassley noted those cuts will be somewhere between the $4 billion voted on in the Senate and the $40 billion proposed by the House. "So you have to find a compromise between $4 billion and some other number coming out of the House," he said.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was forceful in stressing Monday in Washington that there will not be another extension. Grassley said that would leave on option open. "If you do nothing then the law of the land is the 1949 farm bill."
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