Farm Bill Chances in 2012 Look Dim
USAgNet - 12/20/2012
Hopes of salvaging a long-term farm bill in this Congress are fading fast as Speaker John Boehner continues to resist including any such legislation in a year-end budget deal with President Barack Obama. According to the Politico, both the White House and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have said savings promised from commodity subsidies could be part of a deficit reduction down payment this year.
As recently as last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged farm bill negotiators to work '24/7' so they could be the caboose on any legislative train leaving before New Year's.
But sources familiar with the deficit talks paint a very different picture: of the speaker digging in, saying he can't include the farm bill in any package for fear of losing more Republican votes.
The House and Senate bills promise savings between $24 billion and $35 billion over 10 years, chiefly from food stamps and crop subsidies. But Boehner believes adding a farm bill is too cumbersome at this stage and it is better kicked over to a new Congress.
"We canít 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," a Boehner aide told the Politico. "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."
This rankles farm bill supporters, since it was Boehner who blocked the House Agriculture Committee from even bringing its five-year plan to the House floor before the election.