The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Last days to highlight partisan differences on farm bill

Partisan differences are likely to dominate any discussion of the farm bill as the House and Senate return Wednesday for their last two or three days in session before leaving until after the November 6 election.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has released a schedule of votes beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and concluding on Friday, but it does not include any consideration of the farm bill. On the floor last Friday, Cantor announced that the House would not come back in session until November 13.

Republicans including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., have proposed a three-month extension of the 2008 farm bill that expires on September 30, but House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has said he will oppose an extension because it would reduce the pressure for passage of a new five-year bill.

Peterson said in an interview on KFGO Radio in Fargo, N.D., on Monday that a three-month extension would have no value because the first problem that comes up with the farm bill expiring is on Jan. 1, 2013, when permanent dairy law would kick in and the support price for milk would rise to $38.

After that, the next problem would occur in May when winter wheat is harvested in Texas and support price for wheat would move to $16.50 because it is based on a percentage of the outdated concept of parity.

Those issues could be addressed if Congress takes up a five-year bill in a lame duck session. Peterson said that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “has always wanted” to take up the farm bill in a lame duck session but that Cantor and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., want to wait until next year.

Peterson also said he is opposed to an extension bill to deal with disaster aid.

In the radio interview, he also expressed annoyance with the Republican leadership for not whipping the farm bill to find out how many members would vote for it. Peterson said he plans to conduct his own tally of who would and would not vote for a farm bill and that he might release the names of Republicans who say this week that they would vote against it on the House floor.

Farm bills have passed the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee. The House has passed disaster aid for livestock producers, but Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has noted that the Senate-passed farm bill includes disaster aid and that fruit producers need disaster assistance while dairy farmers need the new dairy program that is contained in the Senate-passed bill.