The leaders of the House Agriculture Committee, in an “open letter to the farm bill community,” dated Feb. 9, said the U.S. farm bill process was at a “critical” point and proposed that the House and Senate move forward with a conference committee on the legislation.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and the committee’s ranking minority member, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said they have been developing a basic framework for a bill that they believe could pass Congress with bipartisan support and be signed by President Bush.

However, time is running out for a farm bill to be passed before the current law expires and farm law reverts back to legislation passed in the 1930s and 1940s, the leaders noted.

“We are at a critical time. We must make significant progress and outline a framework that is acceptable to the House, Senate and administration before the Presidents’ Day recess in order to pass a farm bill before the expiration of current law on March 15,” Peterson and Goodlatte said.

The Presidents’ Day recess is scheduled to start Feb. 16 and run through Feb. 24.

The two ag committee leaders said they did not feel that “any strategy involving a veto will be good for the country” and urged everyone involved in the farm bill process to “look realistically” at what can be accomplished in the new bill.

“We know that this sense of realism will disappoint some people who wanted more out of the farm bill. We wanted to do more, too, but realism tells us that the possibilities are limited.”

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.