Congress this year has passed fewer bills than at any point in the last 66 years, but members of the farm bill conference committee are optimistic about passing a measure soon.
Time is not on their side. Only two weeks remain for a deal, and the Senate is not in Washington this week. The following week is the only point before year's end in which both chambers are in session together.
Discussions on the next farm bill are expected to continue this week, and Senate conferees have been notified that they may be called back for an open conference meeting.
Still on the congressional to-do list is a budget deal for the rest of this fiscal year. Looming in mid-January is the sequester; the annual $109 billion in automatic across-the-board budget cuts. House and Senate budget chairs have reportedly narrowed their focus in a budget deal.