The first hurdle in passing a farm bill this year has been cleared as the Senate passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill today. Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Relations for American Farm Bureau says while this is a good start – there is still a lot left to do.
“We still have the House Ag Committee markup; then the bill will go to the House floor,” she says. “Then it has to go to conference committee between the House and Senate to work out differences.” After all of that is completed Thatcher says the President has to get on board with the bill. “We are still a long way from being finished.”
Thatcher says with the House pushing back markup of their version combined with the roughly 25 congressional working days that remain before the current bill expires – adds even more pressure to the situation. And that, she says, is not good for agriculture. “We would have to extend the current bill for six months or even longer and I don’t think they will extend it for free,” she says. “I think we’ll have to pay something.”
Thatcher says once those cuts would be made if Congress has to come back the following year and do it again – there just won’t be as much money there to write a farm bill with a good safety net for farmers. She tells Brownfield “agriculture is much better off getting a farm bill completed this year.”
The House is currently scheduled to mark up their version following the July 4th recess.