The Thanksgiving break is ending for Congress and when lawmakers return they'll have plenty on their plate including the looming farm bill debate. Media reports indicate that conferees are talking, so discussion hasn't died just because of the holiday, but the hard work nears.
Last week's proposal by corn, soybean and canola groups to oppose a farm bill that would tie commodity payments to current-year plantings, has garnered some backlash from other groups. However it is being seen as some movement by groups to draw lines in the sand as lawmakers work toward an agreement.
The Dec. 13 deadline that has been discussed as needed to have a bill on the floor to get the farm bill cleared before the Christmas recess looms large. House and Senate conferees will need to push ahead to hit that deadline. The National Journal reports that farm bill conferees have been told they may be called to Washington for an open conference meeting this Wednesday.
It's encouraging that talks continue on the farm bill, there are concerns of the permanent bill and its impact on milk prices after Jan. 1 - the Dairy Cliff as some call it. The conference committee is trying to put the bill together without adequate budget figures as well since no new budget has been passed for fiscal 2014 spending.
However there are some skeptics out there too. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey told KMA radio he believes it is less likely that federal lawmakers will complete their negotiations.
In essence observers on all sides are pondering what may happen next and whether Congress can pull together to overcome significant differences in the House and Senate bills to get a final compromise hashed out. As December winds down the clock ticks louder on that Christmas recess deadline.