The farm bill is being deferred to the post-election congressional session, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) told Reuters News Service on Monday. "It really remains unclear what will happen to the farm bill," he says, with options from a new five-year bill to an extension of current law for anywhere from three months to a year.
The lame-duck session will be jammed with issues; leaders will have to give farm bill priority for it to have a chance of completion, Grassley told Reuters. Congress is expected to adjourn at the end of this week until the post-election session, so the farm bill will remain stalled until November at the earliest.
If the farm bill is delayed into 2013, the budget situation could worsen when the new spending "baseline" is issued in March. "After March 1, it's going to be more difficult to write a farm bill," said Grassley.
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) last week filed a discharge petition that would force the House of Representatives to vote on its version of a new farm bill if it gets 218 signatures (the number of votes needed to pass the bill).
As of Friday, the petition reportedly had only 53 signatures, primarily Democrats, so it looks doubtful that the 218 votes needed to pass the farm bill exist. It is unclear the measure would pass even if brought up in a lame-duck session post-election.
Conservative Republican House members are against the spending levels contained in the bill. The Club for Growth, a conservative 527 group, on Monday warned its members against the discharge petition.
Club for Growth charges the bill "authorizes a whopping 60% increase in spending over the 2008 Farm Bill", creates new entitlement programs that could be "extra costly to taxpayers" and does nothing to reform the food stamp program.
Meanwhile, liberal Democrats have stepped up their opposition to the $16 billion in cuts to the food stamp program contained in the House farm bill.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.