Wednesday, November 28, 2012

House Republicans say no new Farm Bill by Jan. 1, but propose an extension as a year-end priority

House Republican leaders have listed extension of the current Farm Bill, not passage of a new one, "as one of a half-dozen items that needs to be finished before year-end," Agri-Pulse reports today after interviewing House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., right. "The length and scope of any extension is still unknown – dependent primarily on successful completion of the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations."

Lucas says there will be no new Farm Bill by Jan. 1 because the Department of Agriculture would not be ready to implement it, but that may be a negotiating position, or an excuse. The Senate has passed a new five-year Farm Bill that is estimated to cost $23 billion less than the current version would over the next 10 years, and wants it included as part of the fiscal-cliff calculations. And so do House Democrats; Agri-Pulse notes that the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, former chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota, "is adamantly opposed to a Farm Bill extension."

“Collin has made it very clear that he wants a complete product, he wants it now and he wants the House version. I agree with him on all of those points,” Lucas told Agri-Pulse. “But in my role as chairman, I have to work in the environment that I’m in.” House Republicans are divided about the Farm Bill, mainly by how much should be spent on the Special Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Agri-Pulse is subscription-only, but offers a free trial.

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