The farm bill deadline may be stretched yet again from this Saturday (March 15) to April 15.
According to a report by Jerry Hagstrom, DTN political correspondent, Congressional leaders are reluctantly willing to let the 2002 farm bill get another one-month extension if a deal is reached on funding for the new farm bill. The March 15 deadline was already an extension.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pressured congressional farm leaders late last week to finish the long-stalled farm bill as soon as possible by signaling they are not enthusiastic about an extension of the bill until April 15.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) believes the House and Senate farm leaders will be able to reach a basic agreement on the farm bill by March 14 when Congress leaves for its two-week spring recess, but that it will be necessary to extend the farm bill until April 15 so that the new bill can be finished.
The House and Senate chairmen and ranking members have agreed the budget should be increased by $10 billion over 10 years, but they have not agreed on what spending cuts or tax measures might be used to pay for it in order to comply with congressional budget rules, according to Hagstrom.
The Bush administration has agreed to the $10 billion increase and to spending cuts, but not to proposed changes in tax laws that might increase government income, according to a Hagstrom report.