Lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., this week with a need to still find a path forward on the farm bill. However, multiple measures, including 2019 appropriation bills, must also be passed in the lame-duck session.
The House is scheduled to leave on Dec. 13, while the Senate is scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 14. But, Congress could stay in session longer if the necessary end-of-the-year business is not completed by the target dates, according to the Hagstrom Report. Leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees say they still hope to finish a farm bill this session, but they have not shown signs of reaching a final agreement.
Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who will chair the House Ag Committee next year, says if the bill does not pass, he wants to organize his committee quickly in January and bring up the farm bill in short order. Both parties in farm bill talks are on record as wanting a farm bill this year, to avoid the uncertainty of an extension and having a new, split Congress start from scratch.
Cody Lyon, American Farm Bureau Federation Managing Director of Advocacy and Political Affairs, says many incoming urban and suburban lawmakers are just not up to speed on farm issues.
Lyon says the farm knowledge gap in the new Congress could be huge.
All of this could delay writing another new farm bill, in the absence of a lame-duck bill.
An extension of the expired 2014 farm bill, while not automatic, would also be needed to avoid reverting to 1939 law, a huge hike in milk prices, no crop insurance, little conservation funding and more — all compounding farmer uncertainty.
Source: National Association of Farm Broadcasters