By Tyson Redpath, the Russell Group
A finished farm bill is still a way off as Congress has left Washington to run for election on November 6. When it returns, a month and a half is the entirety of time left before a December 31 deadline forces all sides to an agreement on a new bill or the extension of current law.
Absent some final action, ‘permanent law’ returns and is so-called because each Farm Bill since the late 1940s has amended without repealing a series of programs dating back to price supports and grower allotments set at the turn of the last century. Permanent law, which is unique to federal agriculture policy has remained on the books for eight decades serving the purpose of ensuring action on each subsequent farm bill. Again, the threat of permanent law will play its customary role of forcing the hand of Congress.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees continue negotiating on a final bill with disagreements over SNAP now radiating into other areas of the bill including a newly designed cotton program and changes to conservation programs. Desired changes sought by California rice to reference price targets and flexible wildlife conservation programming live on and need now only a completed bill to be passed by Congress and signed by the President. The forthcoming midterm elections will have some say on how and when that finished product comes together.