Farm Bill Extension in the Works

Stating it is no longer possible to enact a five-year farm bill in this Congress - House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas says the responsible thing to do is to extend the 2008 Farm Bill for one year. He says an extension would provide certainty to the nation's producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions. While Lucas says the extension legislation isn't perfect - he is hopeful it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by President Obama by Tuesday (January 1). In endorsing the one-year extension - Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson - said reforms to the dairy industry are the primary reason he's willing to even consider an extension.

Without a temporary extension - Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow said we risk serious damage to the economy. She placed the blame on the House Republican leadership for their lack of action. According to Stabenow - the responsible short-term farm bill extension was developed by Ag Committee leaders in both chambers. She says it not only stops milk prices from spiking - but prevents eventual damage to the entire ag economy. Despite her backing for a short-term extension now - Stabenow continues to stress the importance of passing a five-year farm bill to give farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to plan for the future. Without a new farm bill in this Congress - she said the Senate Ag Committee will soon hold another mark-up and keep working until one is enacted in 2013.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition - three different versions of measures to extend the farm bill were filed late Saturday night. The other two versions were one-month extensions primarily focused on delaying the so-called dairy cliff. Peterson expressed opposition to both efforts - stating they would fail to reform the dairy safety net. He called the 30-day extension approach a poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty given the improbability that the House and Senate could enact long-term farm policy into law within the next 30 days.

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