Now that the House is planning to act on the farm bill by extending the 2008 version – the leadership is working to sort out the details regarding the best path forward for addressing drought conditions and farm policy. For one thing – House leaders need to determine what kind of rule on amendments will govern debate. The Republican leadership in the House has generally pursued a policy of open rules. At least when talking about the House Agriculture Committee’s farm bill – Ranking Member Collin Peterson said he was hopeful the Rules Committee would agree to a modified open rule – limiting the number of amendments. Another option is a closed rule – which would not allow for amendments. The House released language for a one-year extension of the current farm bill – including supplemental ag disaster assistance – on Friday afternoon – but it is unclear if this is seeking an actual extension or providing an avenue for a Senate-House farm bill conference. The measure to extend the current farm bill is expected to come up this week (week of July 30th). If it is approved – it will be conferenced with the Senate-passed farm bill in September.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow expressed that she was open to the House approach if they intend to send a bill that will be used to negotiate the farm bill during August. But she says a short-term extension is bad for farmers and the agricultural economy. If Congress kicks the can down the road with a short-term extension – Stabenow noted there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, we will lose the opportunity for major deficit reduction and deliver a real blow to the nation’s economic recovery. At the end of the day – she says it’s important to give farmers certainty with a full farm bill and keeping the ag economy growing.