The Farm Bill in 16 Days??

Monday, November 11, 2013

     I had a chance to listen to Chuck Spencer Executive Director, Corporate and Government Relations at GROWMARK, Inc. speak last week in Ohio and Indiana. He had some real good points on the Farm Bill and felt they needed to be shared.  He was kind enough to provide his thoughts below.

     16 Legislative business days remain on the legislative calendar before year end.  Why is that important for the Farm Bill?   You may recall that the current farm bill extension expired September 30, 2013.  We also learned last year that nothing serious seems to happen until after January 1.   This is the same schedule “ground” we plowed last year.  What is different is both the House and Senate have passed a farm bill and conferees are meeting.   Staff has the non-controversial items negotiated and now it is time for the leaders to make decisions on issues where difference remains.  The commodity title of the House and Senate take different approaches to price swings for commodities.  A brief review of the specifics can be found at .    Note the Senate stays focused on base acres (decoupled from actual planted acres) and the House version couples payments to planted acres.  Base acres vs planted acres has a long history of policy discussion.   Planted acres could make a new farm bill more susceptible to World Trade Organization challenge by other nations as an unfair subsidy.  
     There are a number of battles within the farm bill like dairy, conservation, crop insurance tweaks, but the next largest battle will be the nutrition title.  Food programs are about 80% of the farm bill budget.  The House wants to cut $40 billion over a 10 year budget baseline and the Senate wants to cut $4 billion.  Negotiations have been rumoring in the $10 – 12 billion range.  With this much negotiation left to do and the end of this year fast approaching, negotiators are working hard.   You can read updates that clearly feel a deal is within reach and others with experience who will claim an extension is going to occur.  If you want a specific outcome, now is the time to be engaged. 
     Chuck does a good job summarizing this and check out the link he included.  It is time for all of us in our industry to stand up and engage ourselves in the process.  If we do not speak up someone else will for us and might not say what we want or would have.