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Optimism Remains for Lame Duck Farm Bill

As Congress prepares for the lame duck session with a clarity of leadership for the next two years, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says there are several agriculture provisions that need to be wrapped up.

He says a new tax extenders package should be passed, including the biodiesel tax credit, and the spending bills that expire on December 9th should be addressed.

But ultimately, he says farmers need the certainty of a five year farm bill as opposed to a year long extension, "A new farm bill should get passed. Seems negotiators have been hung up on the commodity title because of certain southern crops, think that they need more subsidy. They need to come to the table with open mind about what is feasible."

The 2014 farm bill officially ended with September and still is in conference committee where leaders of the house and senate agriculture committees are meeting to figure out a compromise on the bill.

Over the elections, while many representatives were in their home state, committee staff were still at work trying to reach agreements.

Andrew Walmsley with the American Farm Bureau Federation says, "We're pretty optimistic we're going to get a farm bill done, there's been a lot of work that's taken place to get to this point. We've seen post-election all four principals talk about the desire to wrap this thing up and from where we sit and the conversations we've had. We've seen a lot of progress made, staff's been hard at work, so there's definitely a pathway forward."

Walmsley says a new farm bill is needed because of a drastic change in the farm economy, net farm income has decreased by about 50 percent and farmers want certainty.

But according to Mary Kay Thatcher, senior lead of Federal Government Relations with Syngenta, there is a history of farm bill delays, "The world doesn't stop if it doesn't happen. Certainly we had extensions in 2014 that took us two and a half years to get the farm bill done. And in fact, the trend is probably against us. Because if you look at it, we have not had a farm bill done in a lame duck congress for 28 years."

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