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AFBF: No farm bill until 2014

12/11/2013 at 3:43 p.m.

From the American Farm Bureau Federation:

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated again that the House will adjourn for the year this Friday, December 13.

Yesterday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said he will offer an extension to the 2008 farm bill through the end of January. Rep. Lucas indicated this is necessary to ensure there are no increases in dairy prices when the dairy provisions expire Dec. 31. The dairy provisions do not expire until Dec. 31 even though much of the remainder of the bill expired in September. It is important to keep in mind that there is nothing magic about a Jan. 1 implementation date, and USDA has a significant amount of flexibility in when they actually implement permanent law.

Others have indicated they are concerned about how the Congressional Budget Office might score such a lapse on Jan. 1. Lucas said he feels compelled to “have it ready before Congress goes home,” but that if it looks like Congress would take up the farm bill the first week in January he would be “very hesitant” to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Also yesterday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said she did not support such an extension and the Senate would not pass it. She indicated her desire to keep up pressure to finish the bill. She said she hoped the four principals could announce a framework agreement before the Senate adjourns a week from Friday, December 20. She said if that happens, there would be an open meeting of the conferees in early January and then an attempt to pass the bill. Later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said when told about the House’s plan to do a one month extension, “Let them vote on it. We’re not going to do it.” 

While the committees hoped to have scores back from the Congressional Budget Office on Monday on the proposals sent last week, that had not occurred by mid-afternoon yesterday, so discussions were slowed significantly.

Rumors abound as to what is included in the bill being negotiated by the four principals. It is very important to remember that while the rumors may be true now, nothing is final until all issues in the bill are completed – and until CBO scores the bill.

Both the House and Senate will return on Jan. 7.

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