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November 16
NACo Pushes for Farm Bill Reauthorization During Lame Duck: Outlook Remains Uncertain

​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.

Contact:  Erik Johnston · 202-942-4230



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