By NFU government relations staff
This past week, House Republican and Democratic leadership battled over farm bill inaction. The 2008 Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30, 2012, and NFU, other interested organizations, and supporting members of Congress from both parties had been waiting to see if House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., would schedule action on the bill this week or in the last five days that Congress planned to be in session before the election, Oct. 1-5.
Unfortunately, Majority Leader Cantor announced that, not only would the House not be considering the farm bill before the election, but he would cancel the session planned for October, completely eliminating the possibility of bringing the bill to the House floor before the 2008 Farm Bill’s expiration. This premature departure marks one of the earliest pre-election adjournments of Congress since 1960.
Speaker Boehner reiterated later this week during a press conference that the House would “deal with the issue of the farm bill” after the election. Watch a video of his remarks here.
Later, in a separate press conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when asked about the Speaker’s remarks on dealing with the farm bill after the election, stated, “When after the election? In the year Anno Domini 2012 or after the election?” implying that he intends to delay the bill until after the start of the new Congressional session.
Pelosi continued, saying, “Suffice it to say, not to have a farm bill is an irresponsible approach. It is not as if it took us by surprise. It’s something that was due because its authorization was expiring. It’s something that was being worked on in good faith in a bipartisan way in the House and in the Senate. And once again, the House Republicans have painted them in a place that is [an] outlier, over there from the Senate Republicans and Democrats, from the House Democrats. And their leadership – the Speaker, I don’t think, has ever voted for a farm bill. You check and see. You check and see.
“So when he says after the election, I think that is exactly right. But the question is: ‘what year?’ You know, is there going to be a farm bill? There is great disappointment in farm country on this issue probably now.” Read the full version of the press conference here.
Even as there is uncertainty as to when or if the farm bill will be taken up in the House during the lame duck session, there are still questions about the effect of reverting to “permanent law” on farmers and the agricultural economy. A report by the Congressional Research Service summarizes the effects on all farm bill programs – of particular note are support prices for commodities based on a percentage of parity for the 2013 crop year and halting new sign-ups for conservation programs.