Food Safety Magazine

News | January 15, 2013

U.S. Congress Agrees to 1-Year Extension of the Farm Bill

The leaders in both parties on the House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a 1-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired in October 2012. But House leaders have yet to say whether they will allow a vote on it.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced that they had agreed on a last-minute extension that would extend the farm bill and replace dairy programs that would have expired. Expiration of those dairy programs could mean higher milk prices at the grocery store within just a few weeks.

House Republicans have yet to endorse the committees’ extension agreement, and leaders are also considering two narrower extension bills: a 1-month extension and an even smaller bill that would merely extend dairy policy.

The extension would make modest cuts in a controversial farm subsidy known as direct payments, which pays farmers whether they farm or not. The extension would cut $1.3 billion from the subsidy’s $50 billion cost over 10 years. Both the House and Senate farm bills eliminated that subsidy completely.

The extension would also extend and pay for several farm bill programs that expired in October, from a small watershed rehab program to funding for rural “microentrepreneurs” to help for farmers' markets and organic producers. The bill budgets about $850 million for immediate disaster assistance, with most of that money going to livestock producers.