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2013 Farm Bill update: An overview of what's ahead

Both the U.S. Senate and House have passed farm bills. As expected, differences exist. Some are notable. In a recent article, Carl Zulauf, Ohio State University ag economist, and Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois ag economist, look at the farm bill situation from three perspectives: politics, process and content.
Although many paths forward exist, Zulauf and Schnitkey offer four possible outcomes. The interplay of politics, process and content will determine which of these paths – or an entirely different path –  is taken:
  1. The Conference Committee reaches an agreement that is enacted into law.
  2. The Conference Committee does not reach agreement and the current 2008 farm bill extension is extended for another year. As an aside, a 2-year extension could occur if Congress wants to avoid a farm bill debate in a Congressional election year.
  3. The Conference Committee does not reach agreement and the 2008 farm bill is extended again but in a different version. For example, some observers have discussed reducing direct payments if another extension occurs.
  4. The Conference Committee does not reach agreement and permanent law is repealed, ending farm commodity support programs. This outcome seems unlikely but we do not think its probability is zero. Should this outcome occur, the farm safety net becomes the insurance program, meaning multiple-year losses would not be covered by the farm safety net.