Statements this week from agriculture leaders reinforced the uncertainty surrounding the agriculture budget and the process for reauthorizing federal farm policy in the 113th Congress.
The New Year’s fiscal cliff deal included an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill for one year, including existing Title I farm safety net programs.
Direct payments, which were targeted for certain elimination in the 2012 Farm Bill proposals that passed the Senate and House Agriculture Committee, were part of the extension, and USDA recently confirmed it will issue the payments this fall unless some other legislation changes the law before that time.
Threats to the program, which many farmers value but most in the public don’t support, are expected to be numerous. This week, an unsuccessful amendment surfaced to move funding for direct payments to Hurricane Sandy relief.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this week USDA will allow farmers to get out of – or into – the ACRE program for the term of the one-year extension. ACRE was written such that farmers had to remain in it for the life of the farm bill after signing up the first time. The extension evidently did not continue this specification.
With several serious fiscal issues looming before Congress, agriculture leaders are not yet setting firm timetables for new farm bill work.
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