Fate of 2012 farm bill remains mystery



WASHINGTON — The future of 2012 farm bill is unknown, after the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, often called the super committee, failed to reach a compromise Nov. 21.

What it means

Carl Zulauf, an ag economist and farm policy expert at Ohio State University, said there is no doubt the decision reached by the super committee will affect the 2012 farm bill, but exactly how it will be affected is a mystery, for now.

Zulauf said the 2012 farm bill, as part of the USDA’s budget, could be subject to automatic cuts in January 2013, but if it will be and how much is yet to be known.

“The bottom line in all of this is it’s too early to know how it will all play out,” said Zulauf.

If the bill goes through the normal process, he added, it is possible that it could become a different bill than currently proposed.

Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released a joint statement when the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach an agreement.

They said House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders developed a bipartisan, bicameral proposal for the committee 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.”

Lucas and Stabenow said they will continue the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in the coming months.

Not invited to table

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said the failure of the super committee on deficit reduction means a farm bill will be written the way it should be.

“…In recent weeks, the chairs of the House and Senate agriculture committees have worked on a farm bill proposal, largely without my input and the input of the other members of the two committees.

“The last proposal was so ‘secret’ that I still have not seen final legislative language and scores.”

Roberts said he had “substantial concerns” about the direction of the commodity title and the “inequitable distribution of spending reductions between commodities, conservation, nutrition and specialty crop programs.”

“I know that Chairwoman Stabenow and Chairman Lucas have worked hard to put together a recommendation to the joint committee. However, this process was not the way to write the farm bill.”

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