The 2012 election has maintained the status quo in Washington, which may slightly improve the outlook for passage of the Farm Bill in the lame duck session of Congress. Democrats control the Senate while Republicans control the House. While dealing with the so-called “fiscal cliff” will be the top priority for returning lawmakers, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, plans to make a push for her House colleagues to complete action on the bill.
“The Senate came together in a bipartisan way and we passed the Farm Bill,” Stabenow says. “The House Agriculture Committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass a Farm Bill. As soon as Congress comes back, the Farm Bill needs to be a top priority in the House of Representatives.”
Stabenow’s House counterpart appears to be on board. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, says it’s a bi-partisan measure.
“This is a balanced, reform-minded, fiscally responsible bill that underscores our commitment to production agriculture and rural America, achieves real savings, and improves program efficiency,” Lucas states.
The Farm Bill never made it to a vote in the full House since many Republican lawmakers—mostly from non-farm states—objected to some of the spending measures it contained. The old Farm Bill expired at the end of September. Since then, US agricultural policy has been guided by “permanent law”—a patchwork of what Stabenow calls “outdated subsidies and costly price controls set in the 1940s.”