Ag Policy Blog

House Leaders Again Hit Pause Button on Farm Bill

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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House leaders are hitting the pause button the farm bill once again.

Politico reported Tuesday night that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, fears losing Republican votes on a final fiscal package if leaders throw a full-fledged farm bill into the mix as well.

Politico quotes a Boehner aide saying, “We can’t drop a farm bill in the middle of whatever is negotiated. A 1,000-page bill on top of whatever is negotiated will just make our vote situation harder. If we can agree on a top-line number, we suspect the committees will have a much easier time getting to a bill next year under regular order.”

However, House leaders do plan to negotiate with the Obama administration a final number on savings from the farm bill that the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders would have to achieve when they eventually move a farm bill, assuming leadership is willing to then bring the legislation to the floor.

The major issue now is crafting enough extension language to deal with all of the programs before Jan. 1 when a potential price spike would occur in dairy. Without an extension of the 2008 dairy programs, or a new program, the dairy prices revert back to the 1949 permanent law. USDA would effectively be forced to drive up milk prices to more than $38 per hundredweight, more than doubling the price of milk for consumers. Earlier this month in D.C., House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told reporters he supported the new dairy program crafted by committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn. Boehner, who had served on the ag committee earlier in his career, also worked on dairy policy. Last summer, Boehner referred to Peterson's plan as a "Soviet-style" dairy program.

Lucas also had indicated to reporters earlier this month that there was a possibility the farm bill would face an extension, despite the resistance from Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Lucas told reporters he would be ready to again markup a bill early in 2013 if that were the case.

To recap, House leaders in July declared they had to hit the "pause button" on the farm bill, as Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., put it at the time, after the Senate beat expectations and voted a bill off the floor. The House Agriculture Committee completed its work in late July, but House leadership said they would consider the farm bill after the summer break. Then, appearing that the GOP could win the presidency, House leaders didn't want to give President Obama a bill he could sign in a farm state such as Iowa. Cantor said on the campaign trail with a congressional candidate in Idaho that House leaders would "deal with the farm bill" after the election. Cantor has now successfully dealt with the farm bill by effectively running out the clock on the pause button.

The Politico piece from Tuesday can be found at…

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Lon Truly
12/21/2012 | 8:21 AM CST
The potential doubling of milk prices is viewed as a total disaster by many. RFS is a major factor in the doubling or tripling of corn and soybean prices. Where is the outrage over the government mandated use of ethanol?
W Lee Deutsche
12/19/2012 | 10:42 AM CST
Cantor / Boehner need to "lead,follow OR get the hell out of the way"
Ric Ohge
12/19/2012 | 9:56 AM CST
As potentially harmful as delay could be to the Ag Sector, the dearth of Rural Development Monies is killing a lot of construction-in turn, killing jobs, both for the construction, as well as those generated by Rural Community infrastructure upgrades. In Belmond, we got a new Water Plant and good-sized Medical Facility before those funds started drying up. They DID create a number of jobs, which, in turn moved more revenue to local business. For instance if you're a small town supermarket, your orders go up, which pushes up other town's economies-see how it all works. Except, at this moment it's NOT working, and we have consumer prices rising, like the milk mentioned in the article, with more people with reduced employment or unemployed. As Mr Preston eloquently said, "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing..."