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Farm bill in wake of super committee failure?

By now jaded by political intransigence, the American public is surely not shocked to learn that the ballyhooed, 12-member ‘super committee’ announced late on Monday that it had failed.   

That means legislators -- who had been pouring energy into lobbying the super committee to protect pet projects and favored programs -- will now scramble to find alternate ways to do the same. That’s because with the super committee falling on its face, $1.2 trillion will automatically be scythed from the federal budget over a decade.

Half that $1.2 trillion is supposed to come from the massive defense budget; the other half divided between entitlement and domestic programs. But the cuts won’t hit until 2013, allowing legislators plenty of time to deal in the shadows and play the funding game.

In response to the super committee announcement, Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement: “House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders developed a bipartisan, bicameral proposal for the (super committee) that would save $23 billion. However, the … committee’s failure to reach a deal on an overall deficit reduction package effectively ends this effort. We are pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan way with committee members and agriculture stakeholders to generate sound ideas to cut spending by tens of billions while maintaining key priorities to grow the country’s agriculture economy. We will continue the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in the coming months, and will do so with the same bipartisan spirit that has historically defined the work of our committees.”

What will the super committee’s failure mean for the farm bill turned in last Friday (November 18)?

For more, see here.

On Monday morning, Mark Maslyn, American Farm Bureau Federation executive director of public policy, said “It looks like the ‘super committee’ is falling apart.

“I haven’t spoken with (House and Senate) Agriculture Committee contacts today but I suspect the farm bill that was turned in (last Friday) isn’t the farm bill they’d have written in a normal year.

“I don’t know if we’re all the way back to Square One, but set back to Square Two or Three.

“If, in fact, the super committee fails, it’ll bring the farm bill (construction) back to regular order. The members of the agriculture committees and some of the commodity groups may now want to take a step back and say ‘Okay, now we’re relieved of the pressure of time. We don’t have the constraints of trying to get the farm bill into a (super committee) package. Let’s take our time and do this by design in a more deliberative way.’ That’s what I think will happen.”

Any bits of the farm bill turned in that Maslyn was particularly happy or upset with?

As far as the elimination of direct payments, “the fact that the (legislators) went that route isn’t surprising, at all. Originally, we thought (direct payments) should be included in the farm bill.

“However, we also knew that it would be virtually impossible to save them. That’s simply because of the bipartisan opposition, including leading members of the agriculture committees. They actually said they wouldn’t fight for direct payments anymore and would be moving on.

“So, it wasn’t a surprise and we fully expected (direct payments) would be eliminated … on the floor if the bill ever got that far.”

Going forward, Maslyn assumes “the agriculture committees and those interested in the farm bill will take a step back. I think ag committee members and stakeholders will reevaluate not only the policy proposals but also the political dynamics. Maybe we can start fresh.”

TAGS: Legislative
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