Congress Deals with Farm Bill After All

Reports late Monday night were that an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill was not likely to be considered as part of the fiscal cliff legislation. But an extension of the current measure through the end of September 2013 was ultimately included in the measure approved by the Senate early Tuesday morning and by the House late Tuesday night. Reports are that the extension included in the package is a trimmed-down version of the plan proposed by Senate and House Agriculture committee leaders over the weekend. A Senate aide said it would extend the dairy program some want to replace and leaves out disaster assistance. There is also no funding for energy provisions and other expired programs that were in the 2008 legislation. Pat Roberts - Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee - said the extension isn't the best possible bill but is the best bill possible at this time. He said it provides consumers certainty by avoiding the dairy cliff -and provides certainty to producers and their lenders as Congress continues work on a Farm Bill in 2013. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow called the farm bill extension incomplete - stating that it ends funding for important parts of the bill while continuing costly taxpayer subsidies that were ended in the Senate-passed farm bill. Rather than embracing the bipartisan Senate farm bill - which cut 24-billion dollars in spending - Stabenow said McConnell insisted on a partial extension with no reform and no deficit reduction. She also said the partial extension hurts many areas of the agriculture economy. A McConnell spokesman said the Senator put forward a bipartisan, responsible solution that averted the dairy cliff and provided certainty to farmers for the next year without costing taxpayers a dime.

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