New Year's Eve headlines: Farm Bill/dairy proposals
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) says that a compromise has been reached between both parties, "It is not perfect - no compromise ever is - but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President by January 1."
Each of the three bills would in some way prevent the spike in dairy prices that would be caused by the failure to pass a new five-year farm law when the one enacted in 2008 expired.
Both Houses will be in session today – New Year’s Eve – as Congress and the White House struggle toward a compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”And while waiting for a deal, both houses could take up the legislation to avert the so-called “dairy cliff.”
The second measure would extend most of the current law through Jan. 31, and the third would protect only against possible dairy-price spikes. Those two are opposed by House and Senate Democratic agriculture leaders. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, called a 30-day extension a “poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty.”
“If a new farm bill is not passed in the next few days, Agriculture Committee leaders in both chambers and both parties have developed a responsible short-term farm bill extension that not only stops milk prices from spiking, but also prevents eventual damage to our entire agriculture economy," Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said in a statement Sunday.
Not one, but three different farm bill extensions were filed late Saturday night by House Republicans, who are caught in a New Year’s imbroglio over milk prices after their refusal to allow floor debate on a more comprehensive five-year alternative in this session of Congress.
The first draft bill fills 78 pages and reflects an agreement between the leadership of the House and Senate agriculture committees on what amounts to full extension of current programs through the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30. New disaster assistance is included with a major revamp of the milk program to help producers better manage production levels and insure their margins at a time of high feed costs.
The second bill, an 11-page measure, is far narrower and more short-term. The third fills just two pages and appears confined to defusing the threatened spike in milk prices next month.