Under the deals, known as prepaid sales contracts, farmers who deliver grain to elevators this year with agreements to be paid for it in 2013 have the option to count the payments as part of their 2012 income.
Traditionally, farmers would count the income for 2013, which will be the year in which they receive the money, said Neiffer, a partner at CliftonLarsonAllen.
"They can move income into 2012 to soak up that lower tax rate if they want," Neiffer said.
Other practical issues - from estate planning to land purchases - have farmers hungry for a resolution of the farm bill issue. But earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that there was a serious risk the deeply divided U.S. Congress will not complete work on a new five-year farm bill by year-end.
House Republicans and Senate Democrats remain deadlocked over how to best achieve major savings in farm programs, with debate centered on the levels of crop subsidies and cuts to the food stamp program for the poor. Discussions of an extension of the previous farm bill have been somewhat lackluster, say agricultural lobbyists.
Among the more hotly debated issues are a heavier reliance on crop insurance programs, levels of support for commodity crop subsidies, and reform of the subsidy program for cotton amid threats of trade retaliation from Brazil against some $800 million in U.S. exports.
As lawmakers debate these issues, the agricultural sector is preparing for the worst.
Dairy farmers are expected to feel the impact first. If the lack of a farm bill reverts the country's farm policies back to 1949 rules, Washington will be forced to purchase milk at far higher rates, fueling industry fears that the retail price of butter could double and a gallon of milk could jump to $6 a gallon or more.
That might spark a massive consumer backlash against dairy products in the New Year, caution trade groups.
By early next year, winter wheat farmers - whose grains often are used in the baking of bread and pastries - would be impacted by a lack of federal safety nets, said Chandler Goule, a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union.
It has been a rough season for these farmers. Historic drought, along with recent warm weather and a lack of rain, have left the new wheat crop in the worst condition in decades. Earlier this month, agricultural experts cautioned that farmers might abandon more than a quarter of the new wheat crop due to devastating weather.
"The repercussions of all this are going to become very serious very fast," Goule said about long-delayed deals for a farm bill and an economic plan.
Farmers hustle to avoid "fiscal cliff" blowback
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