Farm Bill Talks Break Down as Deadline Looms

Posted November 22, 2013

Farm bill negotiations broke down on Thursday and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) said it would be “very challenging” for him to meet the Republican leadership’s schedule of having a final agreement by December 13, according to a Politico article available here.

After three “face-to-face” meetings in 24 hours between the negotiators for a framework deal before the Thanksgiving recess, Lucas said, “On a member-to-member level, we are done for the week.” 

While staff discussions will continue, the commodity title and cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, remain divisive issues. 

Congress has made progress, but failure to meet the December 13 deadline means the farm bill debate will continue into a third year.  Congress could pass a short-term extension into January or the farm bill could revert back to the 1949 law. 

The White House Rural Council released a report on Thursday highlighting the benefits of passing a new farm bill before the end of the year, according to an Agri-Pulse article available here.

“The alternatives to full reauthorization-either delay or reversion to permanent law-would result in continued uncertainty for farmers and rural stakeholders,” according to the Report available here.

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, noted that another farm bill extension will cost additional resources, when deficit reduction is the goal.  Vilsack said, “With an extension, there comes costs…You don’t get the reforms the bill being considered by the conference committee will provide.”

“I think Congress is capable of acting quickly,” said Vilsack.  “They act best and most expeditiously when there’s a timeline.”

The report states that since the extension of the 2008 farm bill, “some programs have been simply extended, others remain either unfunded, unauthorized, or without enactment of needed reforms.”

For more information on farm bills, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.