Yeah, a farm bill probably isn’t happening this year

posted at 1:01 pm on December 10, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

For all of the year’s high legislative drama over and high electoral hopes for finally getting a non-stopgap version of a farm bill — that longstanding marriage of convenience between our explosively growing food-stamp program and our less expensive but much more egregious crop of corporate pork known as our agricultural policy — passed, it now looks like the whole thing just ain’t gonna’ happen this year. Despite the agribusiness lobbying pressure coming in from all sides, the House and Senate conferees have yet to nail down a version that would be amenable to both of their respective legislative bodies, and with 2013′s last session just about done, they’re probably pushing the issue into next year. Again.

Via Politico:

To buy more time for farm bill talks, the House is expected to take up this week a short-term extension of current law through January.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already signaled he is open to this option and a vote could come as early as Wednesday on the suspension calendar.

This is the second such extension Congress has been forced to take up since the 2008 farm bill expired almost 15 months ago. But the circumstances now are very different.

Last year at this time, the House had yet to even act on a farm bill and a long-term extension was needed through this past September. The legislative process is much farther along now—albeit still tortured. And there is a genuine hope that a House-Senate conference can report a farm bill back for final action in January.

True that the farm bill is this time much “farther along” (if that’s how you want to look at it) in terms of the legislative deliberations — but I don’t know that anything’s changed that will make the vote any less screechingly contentious, what with the draconian five percent cut to the food-stamp budget Republicans have proposed and the Democrats’ subsequent commitment to beating them around the heads with the intellectually cheap demagoguery stick for it.

The absurdity of our agricultural policy, by the way, is aptly demonstrated by the very reason Congress is going to tack on a one-month extension of the current policy rather than letting it expire on schedule. Without new legislation in place before New Year’s, we’ll slip back into complex and entirely antiquated price supports that will distort a whole bunch of food prices — a phenomenon generally known as the Dairy Cliff:

Chris Galen, vice president of the National Milk Producers Federation, estimated that dairy products alone could go up 40% to 50%, explaining that the price changes would not happen right away, but could send milk toward $7 or $8 per gallon. “It would be a noticeable increase,” Galen said.

But it’s not just dairy prices that could skyrocket if the House and Senate fail to agree to new Farm Bill or at least extend the current legislation that is set to expire on January 1st.  From dairy to wheat to rice, corn, barley, oats and honey, some of the most ubiquitous crops in the United States would revert back to artificial price supports that Congress first created at the end of the Great Depression and made permanent in 1949.  …

“It would wreak havoc on the entire agriculture industry and the consumer food market,” says Ben Becker, the spokesman for the Senate Agriculture Committee.  “That’s a major reason why we need to get a new Farm Bill done.”

Or, I might suggest that it could be an argument for why the farm bill needs to just Do Less, no? Anyone?


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Well, if it wasn’t packed full of so much pork not related to farming I would be for it.

jake49 on December 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

It saddens me that hard working farmers want to become dependent upon the government teat.

Gunlock Bill on December 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

It saddens me that hard working farmers want to become remain dependent upon the government teat.

Gunlock Bill on December 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

do you like that better? I do.

astonerii on December 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Why are food stamps in the farm bill anyway? Big agribusiness just begs for pork, the small farmers don’t make out so well.

major dad on December 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM

why not invalidate the 1949 BS laws and get out of this whole thing?

dmacleo on December 10, 2013 at 1:28 PM

“It would wreak havoc on the entire agriculture industry and the consumer food market,” says Ben Becker, the spokesman for the Senate Agriculture Committee. “That’s a major reason why we need to get a new Farm Bill done.”

Might I suggest we repeal the 1949 price support bullcarp FIRST? *Then* you can have the fight over the farm bill. Conservatives, why is this fight not being fought on the right battlefield? Are you the guy in the parking lot, searching for his keys under the lamp post because the light’s better? This one seems so easy…….

GWB on December 10, 2013 at 1:29 PM

As a matter of fact, since the federal national government has NO business picking winners and losers, why don’t you simply write a law that says:

All direct price supports for all products, goods and services in US Code or US regulation, whether promulgated by Congress or the Executive branch, are hereby repealed, as of 1 January 2014.

GWB on December 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM

GWB on December 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Hear! Hear! this!

Obama’s first major tax increase was the 30% tariff on Chinese tires beginning on September 1, 2009. American tires went up 30% the next day as a sop to the unions. Anybody with a fleet is quite aware of this.

DanMan on December 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

How about farmers simply let market forces determine pricing and screw government involvement…

PatriotRider on December 10, 2013 at 1:45 PM

The minimum wage is a price support. Just saying…

percysunshine on December 10, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Fun link showing Farm subsidies that end up in the city of Chicago and other major cities:

We show that millions of dollars in Federal Farm Subsidies are flowing into major American urban areas- where there are no farms…

Examples from our report:

1. Three Year Economic Savings Program, Inc- a charity-arm of The Nation of Islam based in Chicago, received farm subsidies at the home address of Minister Louis Farrakhan.

2. New York based National Audubon Society received $960,000 – including a New York based tobacco subsidy.

3. Executives at U.S. Department of Agriculture and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. the people who created and manage these transfers, participate in the subsidy largess.

4. Elected U.S. Senators and Representatives received hundreds of thousands of dollars in farms subsidies.

Fallon on December 10, 2013 at 2:03 PM

No one cares about these farm bill/ethanol stories, Erika.

discojoe on December 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

do you like that better? I do.

astonerii on December 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM

No, I don’t like it better.

BUT!!!!

Unfortunately it is more accurate.

Gunlock Bill on December 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Gunlock Bill on December 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

You are right, it is not something to like better.
my bad! Thanks for catching that for me.

astonerii on December 10, 2013 at 2:16 PM

No one cares about these farm bill/ethanol stories, Erika.

discojoe on December 10, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Does anyone care about what makes up our $17T in debt, or our $1T in defecit? To paraphrase: a $100 billion here and a $100 billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

NOMOBO on December 10, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, via The Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303330204579248614111446196

What the article describes is how the corn growers are hoarding crops in hopes that the prices increase.

If the farm bill is supposed to help both the growers and the consumers, this article tells you that the farms only care about their bottom line and they don’t need the subsidies anymore. It also explains how they worry about corn from other countries and believe the government should keep them in business.

djaymick on December 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM

It saddens me that hard working farmers want to become dependent upon the government teat.

Gunlock Bill on December 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

There was an image circulated around a while back that said something like “Who you think benefits from the farm bill” and it showed a picture of the famous couple in American Gothic. It then said “Who really benefits from the farm bill” and showed a bunch of big ag companies like Archer Daniels Midland.

I say let ‘em put milk on the shelf at $8 a gallon. Let’s see how many they sell.

Kafir on December 10, 2013 at 2:52 PM

I say let ‘em put milk on the shelf at $8 a gallon. Let’s see how many they sell.

Kafir on December 10, 2013 at 2:52 PM

How many people are on food stamps? They get milk for free no matter the price. WIC and a few others are the same.
I bet those welfare people could make a killing in the reselling business!

astonerii on December 10, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Really HA? Erika’s blogging on farm bills? She should be reporting on international news.

DarkCurrent on December 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Really HA? Erika’s blogging on farm bills? She should be reporting on international news.

DarkCurrent on December 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM

why?

dmacleo on December 10, 2013 at 3:32 PM

The “farm bill” has little to do with “family farming” – the amounts which would go to farms earning less than $250K adjusted gross income per year is less than 1% – and everything to do with welfare for both the fraud-laced SNAP (food stamps) program and Big Ag, which hopes to continue reaping subsidies for corn ethanol while keeping cheaper and cleaner sugar ethanol out of the market, raising food prices worldwide, and hastening the wear and tear on internal combustion engines.

But note that they’ve been working on this controversial bill for over a year and aren’t close to a deal yet.

Still, some Henny Penny types among us fret and worry about a nonexistent immigration bill slipping through in the dead of night.

Adjoran on December 10, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Not Happening?

How Sweet It Is!

Another Drew on December 10, 2013 at 4:56 PM

I’ll support the farm bill when they pay auto-mechanics…er…technicians…to not fix cars.

Another Drew on December 10, 2013 at 4:59 PM