THE U.S. FARM BILL - A victim of our changing times...?

2011 Farm Bill
R.I.P. – Part One  


The Farm Bill is Dead!
Long Live the Farm Bill! – Part Two

After missing their original November 1 deadline, the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders continued to work on hammering out a deal on what might have become the 2011 Farm Bill.  Things really heated up late Thursday and early Friday, November 18, when the new farm bill deal appeared imminent.  Friday came and went, however, with the bill drafters still waiting on a final budget scoring on the bill from the Congressional Budget Office, delaying its official unveiling.

The Agriculture Committee leaders intended to send the bill to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Super Committee”) for inclusion in the big government-wide deficit reduction bill.  By this past weekend, though, it became clear the Super Committee would not succeed in producing a budget bill for consideration by the full House and Senate in December.

With the Super Committee process now dead, the Agriculture Committee leadership on Monday decided to simply scrap the deal they had nearly reached and issue no details, no summary, no budget score, and no bill.  Instead, House Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Senate Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) issued a simple statement, saying:

“House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders developed a bipartisan, bicameral proposal for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that would save $23 billion.  However, the Joint Select Committee’s failure to reach a deal on an overall deficit reduction package effectively ends this effort.  We are pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan way with committee members and agriculture stakeholders to generate sound ideas to cut spending by tens of billions while maintaining key priorities to grow the country’s agriculture economy.  We will continue the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in the coming months, and will do so with the same bipartisan spirit that has historically defined the work of our committees."

(Note: One downside of the decision to not release even a summary of the proposed deal is that an out of date and not completely accurate summary of the bill was distributed fairly widely on Friday.  While helpful to a degree, it has also served to confuse people where the summary does not match later reports about what is in the bill.)

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