Agriculture officials are optimistic that a new Farm Bill could be passed by the end of this year.
This week's elections saw a lot of legislative leaders hang on to their seats. UW Madison Agriculture Economist Paul Mitchell says he believes that's good news for those waiting for a Farm Bill. The bill was never brought up for a House vote in September, due to disagreements over how much to fund food stamps. The vote was postponed until sometime after the election. Mitchell says since there are no new legislative leaders to take on the issue, House leaders will likely put the bill up for a vote.
"I am a little more hopeful we'll see a lame duck farm bill passed," he says. "But never say never, you never know what happens out at D.C. sometimes."
Wisconsin Congressman Reid Ribble believes the House could vote on the Farm Bill by year's end. The member of the House Agriculture Committee says it needs to be passed soon, because there are savings in it that will help lawmakers reach $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. If that goal isn't reached, savings that would have been realized in the farm bill could come out of other government agencies.
"There are savings in the Farm Bill that will be needed to offset some of things requires to put sequestration aside, and my guess is they're going to use some of the savings in the Farm Bill to get toward that end," he says.
Before voting on the bill, House members will continue to hear from constituents and lobbyists. Groups are seeking, among other things, permanent disaster recovery funding, and the easing of eligibility requirements for the Milk Income Loss Contract program. The MILC program compensates farmers when domestic milk prices fall below a certain level.