Is a Deal Possible and What Would A Good Deal Look Like?
Thanks to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) for this blog and for their continued reporting and efforts to advocate for passage of a Farm Bill.
Last week we tried to briefly summarize the options remaining for Congress on the farm bill. Since then, there have been some new signs of progress on getting a full five-year bill finished this month, though also signs of continuing confusion and uncertainty. Last week we rated that option as possible, but did not give it great odds, with a modified short term farm bill extension as the option with perhaps the higher odds.
However, the agriculture “gang of four” — Senate Agriculture Chair and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) and House Agriculture Chair and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Collin Peterson(D-MN) — have been meeting this week and, according to news reports, are said to be making progress and to be focused particularly on finding a compromise between the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed commodity titles.
Meanwhile, the two primary negotiators on the bigger matter of the so-called fiscal cliff issues – the White House and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) – have made initial offers on potential funding cut and tax increase targets, but to date there have been no counteroffers and negotiations for the moment at least seem to be at a standstill. A new farm bill or short term farm bill extension would most likely hitch a ride on the bigger package – unless of course there isn’t one.