The Senate has resumed work on a new Farm Bill, with pressure mounting to wrap up debate by Friday. But, there still remains the chance we will not get a Farm Bill this year. With hundreds of amendments to deal with, Senate Ag Committee Debbie Stabenow is under pressure to speed up the floor debate so that the Senate can move on to immigration reform. What the Senate eventually votes on will not really mean much because it will differ drastically from the House version. American Farm Bureau Federation Policy Director Dale Moore says the real Farm Bill will be written by a House/Senate Conference committee, “No matter what the Senate position is, no matter what the House position is, that is why we have conference committees . It will be very interesting to see how they forge that middle ground.” He added, in the end, both sides may not like the final bill but will have to decide what they can live with.
This assumes the House will pass a Farm Bill. House Ag Committee ranking member Collin Peterson told a farm group last week he is not sure there are enough votes in the House to pass a Farm Bill, “I think there is the possibility that we may not have the votes to pass this.” He is confident the bill that will be crafted by the House Ag Committee will have bipartisan support, but is not sure there is enough Republican and Democrat support once the bill comes to the House floor. He said, if that happens, farmers would have to wait 2 years for another try, “If we can’t pass this once it comes to the floor, then I think we are done until the next election.”
Veteran Farm Bill observer and former Secretary of Agriculture Jack Block says there is about an 80% chance Congress will pass a new Farm Bill, “Congress has not been very good at getting anything done so I think they will want to show they can accomplish something, so I think they will pass a Farm Bill.” Block said it will likely be later this year before a final Farm Bill leaves Capitol Hill.