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Watching the Farm Bill Evolve

Watching the Farm Bill Evolve

Web coverage of the farm bill shows that negotiations, or lack thereof, will have an impact.

This holiday weekend, with the House and Senate on holiday break and no sign of a farm bill compromise in sight, it's interesting to check out what other media outlets are saying about the measure. We'll summarize what we found below, but we have links to the full stories included so you can check them out.

STILL WAITING: The farm bill is in conference committee, and there's no sign of a compromise on key measures yet.

Over at Mother Jones reporters say that John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Speaker of the House is blocking the farm bill because the compromise measure isn't cutting enough out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While the report says Boehner denies the actions, the reporter quotes a Democratic aide who says that many informal compromise proposals have been shuttered because Boehner doesn't feel they cut food stamps enough.

The House provision passed and now part of the compromise discussions would cut SNAP spending 10-fold over what the Senate has proposed. And it is one of the major sticking points in farm bill negotiations. The Mother Jones report offers an interesting conclusion, however, noting that if the Democrats defeat Republican proposals, SNAP spending will stay at current levels until a different law goes through. Check out the entire story to see some of the behind-the-scenes issues underway as farm bill negotiations continue.

 A Philadelphia CBS affiliate is reporting that without a new farm bill dairy prices could spike after the first of the year. It's a fact that has been reported several times lately. The fact they point to is that with no farm bill, or farm bill extension, in place by Jan. 1, 2014, regulations from 1949 would go into force. That could bring milk prices up to $7 to $8 per gallon.

This has been discussed in the past, and many observers say lawmakers would pass an extension before allowing the permanent bill to go into effect. One provision of the new farm bill - both on the House and Senate side - would end the older "permanent" resolution, which would end this "incentive" to pass a more modern farm bill every five years.

Check out the CBS report to get a sense of the potential for high-priced milk.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at part of the farm bill that may be ending - the provisions that link conservation practices to farm support. While "sodsaver" rules are part of the Senate farm bill version, they didn't make it into the House version. Now the conference committee has to figure out whether that part of the bill should go on.

De-coupling conservation practices from farm support is a contentious issue for agriculture. Some say that it creates redundancy farmers don't need. But Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., is pushing for a national sodsaver rule and he's part of the House-Senate Conference Committee.

Check out the Star Tribune report: U.S. farm bill could shape Minnesota's shrinking prairie.

There's a deadline looming for that House-Senate Conference committee. They're to have a compromise bill available by Dec. 13 to give lawmakers time to vote before year-end. The pressure is starting to mount again to get some action. Farmers have been two years without a new farm bill, and the last extension expired Sept. 30.

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