According to numerous media reports, the House and Senate ag committees have reached a deal on extending the farm bill that lapsed at the end of September.
The fear of angry families and other milk drinkers, alarmed in recent days by reports that the price of milk might double because of the continued squabble over farm policies and federal payments, spurred Congress into action.
The Senate approved its version this summer. The House has stalled, not even bringing it to a vote. But as the dairy cliff loomed, something started to happen, and reportedly a deal is in the works and a vote may be held Monday in the House on one of three bills.
Sen. Tim Johnson blamed the House, and said it was a half measure.
“I’m disappointed that House inaction has left us in a position where a farm bill extension likely remains as the only viable option at this point. We did our job in the Senate last June by passing a bipartisan five year farm bill with important reforms and 23 billion dollars in deficit reduction. The House has done nothing. While certainly not ideal, I hope that we can at least pass an extension of the 2008 farm bill.”
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said it was the best that could be obtained. That says a lot about the state of politics today.
“An extension of the 2008 Farm Bill is the most we can hope for now and I support inclusion of livestock disaster programs as part of the extension package; however, the inclusion of new dairy policy in an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill will make the package more difficult for some members to support,” Thune said.
Rep. Kristi Noem’s spokeswoman, Andrea McCarthy, says they are waiting to see if a final deal is reached. Noem is on the House Ag Committee, so she should have a good perspective on this.
“Rep. Noem supports providing producers with the greatest amount of certainty possible,” said Jordan Stoick, her chief of staff. “Until a long-term farm bill is finalized, which Kristi continues to push for, she will be calling for the greatest amount of certainty in any short-term measure that is needed.”
We will know in a few hours if the powers that be knuckled under, and voted to keep the price of a gallon of milk $4 or less by passing what used to be known as a “bill.” It may be a new sensation for this Congress.
It’s one thing to take on rival politicians, the media, other countries and imaginary conspiracies, but doubling the price of a basic household item and risking the rage of the common folks was too much for even this stubborn bunch of elected “leaders.”
Will we see similar action on the fiscal slope, as the supposed cliff is more correctly described? Can this failed Congress achieve something of import in the final hours of 2012?