This Sunday, the world will bid farewell to the ninth month of 2012, September. For agriculture, it will also mark the end of the current Farm Bill. While the Senate did pass a version of the bill before breaking for the November election season, the House of Representatives never even brought its version of the bill up for a vote.
“We have people who believe there is not enough reform in the Farm Bill that came out of committee and others who believe there is too much in the bill that came out of committee,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) of the lack of movement on the current bill. “In our opinion, we need 218 votes to pass either an extension or to consider the entire Farm Bill. When we get back, we will deal with this issue of the Farm Bill.”
For now, the consequences of an expired Farm Bill are minor. Conservation Reserve Program enrollments will be suspended and the dairy support program for small operators will end. Commodity programs for the 2012 crops, crop insurance and nutrition programs will continue without interruption.
But things could get dicey if Congress fails to act by the end of the year. Then, the dairy price support program expires, followed by the 2013 winter wheat crop price support program in March.
Right now, the big question is whether or not Congress can pass a new five-year Farm Bill or one-year extension once it returns in November. If not, the 113th Congress would have to start over on new legislation. The last time a Farm Bill expired was in 2007, and it was three months before a new one was passed.
Hopefully, members of Congress will realize that agriculture is one of the brightest spots in the U.S. economy at the moment. It would seem very irresponsible of our lawmakers to take any kind of chance of derailing the market’s growth potential going into 2013.