Farm Bill delayed again by Congress
By Al Cross, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Prospects for a new farm law dimmed today, as the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee "said it would be 'very challenging' now for him to meet the Republican leadership’s schedule of having a final agreement back on the House floor by Dec. 13," David Rogers reports for Politico.

Not meeting the deadline "means that the Farm Bill will be kicked over into a third year of debate after Congress failed to act in 2012 and is now at risk of doing the same for 2013," Rogers writes. "Not all is lost: real progress has been made and the process has advanced much further in this Congress. But it raises the prospect that lawmakers will need to adopt a short-term extension into January of at least dairy program provisions."

The main sticking points remain subsidies for commodity crops and cuts in food stamps. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) "dug in more against the level of food stamp savings demanded by the House," to the frustration of her opposite number, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). She told Rogers that accepting cuts became "much tougher" when a temporary increase in benefits, part of the 2009 stimulus package, expired Nov. 1. That was a 7 percent cut, amounting to slightly more than $1 billion a year.

Meanwhile, the White House Rural Council, an interagency group, issued a report listing the benefits of a new Farm Bill, including rural development, conservation, research and deficit reduction.

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