Negotiations are continuing in Washington as House and Senate conferees face a weekend deadline for reaching a compromise on a new Farm Bill. On Thursday, Indiana farm leaders gather in Indianapolis for an update on progress and chances for success. Corn and soybean leaders met at the Soybean Alliance office for a conference call with Washington lobbyists to get the latest on high level negotiations over a new Farm Bill. What they heard was not encouraging. House Ag Chair Frank Lucas, House Ag Ranking Member Collin Peterson, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, and Senate Ag Ranking Member Thad Cochran met for more than an hour in the morning and less than half an hour Thursday afternoon before deciding there was no point to continue. Stabenow expressed disappointment the leaders hasn’t reached agreement yet, but stated she would continue to fight for priorities the Senate feels are important.
Tippecanoe County farmer Allen Kemper told HAT it is vital a new Farm Bill is agreed upon this week, “Farmers are making plans now for the 2014 crop. We need to know what to expect from farm programs and conservation programs. It is just vital we get a Farm Bill because a lot of key decisions will be made in the next 30 days.” Kemper said, without a new Farm Bill, US grain exports for 2014 will impacted, “So much of our income in agriculture is from exports and we need to keep our export efforts strong; and we need a Farm Bill to do that.”
Corn Growers Vice President David Gottbrath said farmers need to take action now in order to help the process along, “I am not very confident they will reach an agreement, so farmers need to be getting on the phones and making calls and encourage them because we do need a Farm Bill.”
Sam Willett, with the National Corn Growers Association, spoke to the farmers by phone from Washington saying funding for the nutrition title remains the main stumbling block to an agreement. He added there is very little support for a short term extension to the current Farm Bill.
According to Stabenow, the four principals were close to a comprehensive agreement on a number of occasions before the negotiations broke down. She said many chapters of the bill are very close. Stabenow and Lucas had both stated that it was important to reach an agreement this week. Stabenow said she doesn’t know what the lack of a deal at this juncture will mean for finishing the bill this year. The House held its last votes for the week and will return from the Thanksgiving break the first week of December. The Senate, in session today (Friday), is not expected back until December 9th. The House is scheduled to depart for the Christmas break December 13th.