On November 13, NACo joined a broad coalition of 235
organizations in sending a letter
to House leadership urging passage of a new five-year Farm Bill to be signed
into law by the end of the legislative session. "Failure to pass a new
five-year farm bill before the year's end will create significant budget
uncertainty for the entire agricultural sector, including the rural businesses
and lenders whose livelihoods are dependent upon farmers' and livestock
producers' economic viability," the letter states. The letter also states
that a temporary extension would be a "short-sighted, inadequate solution
that would leave our constituencies crippled by uncertainty." An extension
could also leave NACo priority programs for rural development, renewable
energy, and beginning farmers with no mandatory funding for the life of the extension.
The 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2012. The Senate
passed their version of the bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of
2012, S.3240, on June 21. NACo worked to support passage of the Senate bill and
successfully reinstated $150 million in mandatory funding for rural development
and beginning farmer/rancher programs through an amendment. On July 12, the
House Agriculture Committee passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk
Management Act (FARRM), H.R. 6083. However, the House Republican leadership has
refused to give floor time for consideration of the committee-passed bill.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) pledged in
October to address the Farm Bill in the lame duck session. However, it is unclear
if they will allow consideration of the full five-year bill or merely push an
extension through the House in order to avoid major impacts on dairy and other
sectors that will take effect in the new year without a new bill or extension.
The odds are in favor of a Farm Bill extension given the
short amount of time left in the lame duck and large number of issues facing
Congress. However, there are several ways that a multi-year bill can still be
salvaged. There may still be time for regular order with the House passing a
Farm Bill and then conferencing with the Senate. The House could also amend the
Senate-passed bill or the most likely scenario is the inclusion of some type of
compromise Farm Bill in any fiscal cliff bill that makes it through Congress.
Erik Johnston ·