US Farm Bill Soon to be Finalised

US - The Agriculture Secretary and several senators expect the Farm Bill to be finalised before the deadline of the end of September.
calendar icon 2 September 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

With the August congressional recess almost over, many in agriculture are keenly focused on the path forward for the farm bill, including Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, reports the US National Chicken Council (NCC). The current farm bill extension expires at the end of September.

“There is not going to be another extension. You can’t reward continued failure by taking folks off the hook,” Secretary Vilsack said in an interview with Ohio Ag Net last week. “There are differences and those differences can be worked out. There are many benefits to this new farm bill. There is no reason not to get this done,” he said.

Secretary Vilsack pointed out in the interview a number of implications with continued inaction on the farm bill. One of those looming challenges is an ongoing trade dispute with Brazil.

He said: “Brazil won a case with the World Trade Organization which means that they can retaliate, if they so desire, against American goods and services to the tune of perhaps $850 million a year. That will impact and affect American agriculture and American jobs. The passage of a farm bill that changes the way we support cotton farmers will go a long way to ending Brazil’s ability to retaliate. This is one impact of inaction from Congress in getting the farm bill done.

"A second impact would be a longer term problem of permanent law, 1940s law, coming back into play that would create serious distortion in the market. That will really stall the momentum we’ve seen in agriculture in the last few years,” Secretary Vilsack added.

In addition, adds the NCC report, Senator Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa) told reporters last week that he remains hopeful a new five-year farm bill will be passed in Congress ahead of the deadline on 30 September, although there will be just nine working days once lawmakers return to Washington. “The House doesn’t need food stamps in its bill, as it could go to conference with the Senate without it,” he said. He also said that he did not expect any extensions as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada) and Senate Ag Chairman Debbie Stabenow (Democrat-Michigan) have said they would not entertain extension legislation.

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