Congress Inching Toward Farm Bill
John Stewart, American Feed Industry Association manager of government affairs
The deadline for the farm bill, per usual, has been a moving target. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have committed to getting a farm bill done “right” and “on time.” On Wednesday, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he is gearing up for a farm bill to be released in early April and that his staff is already sharing legislative language with the minority staff members, including with ranking member Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in an upcoming meeting. Given Congress has a lengthy to-do list this spring, including an omnibus spending package, AFIA will wait to see if farm bill discussions continue as planned. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said he plans to release the House version of the farm bill by the end of the first quarter. With that self-imposed deadline rapidly approaching, it remains to be seen if that will still happen. The entire agriculture community depends on stability and predictability in farm bills. The dairy and cotton industries saw some relief in the last spending package, which could reduce some of the tension on two of the most controversial issues in farm bills. For now, agriculture groups in Washington, D.C., are working feverishly to make sure funding levels are maintained and programs work effectively and efficiently for producers.