Unless a lame duck Congress gets a new Farm Bill passed there is a risk of even more dire cuts early next year with possible automatic spending cuts, or sequestration, looming. Congress must reach an improbable tax and spending deal after the election to avert that often talked about fiscal cliff of dramatically higher taxes and huge budget cuts, and Iowa Senator and Finance Committee member Chuck Grassley says agriculture will be impacted.
“If we don’t get a 5 year Farm Bill done before March the first when the new CBO benchmarks come out we’re going to have a lot less money to work with, and it’s going to affect what we do in agriculture.”
If the Congressional Budget Office lowers its farm bill benchmark in March, the ag committees will have less money to rewrite the failed Farm Bill they wrote this year, a situation Grassley says creates minimal options.
“When it comes in November and December you can’t talk about a 3 month extension. You have a one year extension or a 5 year Farm Bill, and I hope it’s a five year Farm Bill. That’s what I’ll be advocating for the house of Representatives to do.”
Grassley claims there is no groundswell from the countryside to do a farm bill. Nor is there any real push inside Congress where the big fight is over food stamp cuts and not farm programs. He sees little action on avoiding the fiscal cliff either inside or outside the Senate Finance Committee.
“There’s been no formal meeting, and I don’t think there are a lot of formal discussions going on between Republican and Democrat staff on the committee. I would say that the only other place, and this would be outside the finance committee but including some members of the finance committee, the gang of 6 that you heard about last year, is beginning to function again in a very quiet way.”
The gang has expanded to eight members trying to head off a fiscal calamity by December 31st.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/10/Grassley-on-Farm-Bill.mp3|titles=Grassley on Farm Bill]