Prospects for completing a new farm bill this year may be dimming despite claims of progress by some in House-Senate negotiations. Sharp policy differences, a focus on lower-profile Title One issues, failure by House GOP leaders to get involved in negotiations and just over two weeks left on the House calendar all suggest a heavy lift to get a farm bill done this year after last year’s bill failed and the 2008 law was extended one-year. And now Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is railing at top House negotiators for trying to undo his restrictions on payments to those not actively engaged in farming.
“We need to close loopholes that have allowed non-farmers to game the system. The longer we let this happen the easier it will be for opponents of the farm bill to argue for never having a farm bill again, and quite honestly I don’t know how anyone can promote closing loopholes for food stamps if they don’t also support closing loopholes for farmers.”
Grassley also slammed House Ag Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson for insisting on outdated and possibly WTO non-compliant high target prices and reliance on planted versus base acres. He went after the way House leaders are handling talks.
“I don’t want to say that they aren’t interested in carrying water on this like they didn’t have any interest in it whatsoever, but I think a push from Speaker Boehner would help this along.”
Grassley says Boehner hasn’t sent those signals yet, with just two legislative weeks left on the House calendar after this one.
At the American Farm Bureau Federation Dale Moore expressed hope the farm bill can still be completed this year.
“I am hopeful that shortly after they return from the Thanksgiving holiday that they can get that conference report wrapped up. We’re still holding out hope that we can get the new farm bill up and taken care of before they head home for Christmas.”
But Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association doesn’t have the same optimism.
“We’ve heard a lot of happy talk about how this process has been moving forward. We’ve heard that now for more than two years and I think a lot of folks are ready to see if we’re going to get it done or not. We will believe that is going to be done when it’s done. Until then I think we’re going to have to figure that they’re not going to be able to get their job done.”
Conference Committee Chair Frank Lucas did say this week that farm bill leaders need to have a draft of the bill by the end of the week. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow expressed hope the leaders could release a framework by the end of the week or shortly thereafter.
Source: NAFB News Service