No Farm Bill in 2013

December 11, 2013

Farm bill negotiators conceded Tuesday that they will not finish their work before Congress goes home for the year, but insisted that they are close to a final deal and working toward floor action in early January.

“We are very confident that we are going to have an agreement,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. “We will be ready to vote in January.”

The next few days remain pivotal as lawmakers wait on final scores from the Congressional Budget Office related to the commodity title.

A central question is how much freedom can be given farmers to reallocate crops within their base acres that will become the index for allocating future assistance. Those calculations have not yet been completed by the CBO and stand to have a huge impact — given the shifts already seen in the past decade from wheat to corn and soybeans, for example.

With no bill this year, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas filed a six-page short-term extension of current farm law through Jan. 31, 2014. Lucas said he wanted the House to have this option to consider before it goes home Friday. But if the CBO numbers fall into place, the Oklahoma Republican signaled he would be happy to leave the extension on the shelf.

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