Just like the decisions that had to be made by the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, farmers will also have decisions to make about program participation, at what levels, and with what add-ons. The choices that will be offered to farmers will allow varying forms of price and yield risk protection.
So when will details become available?
After the 41 members of the Conference Committee were appointed, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas determined it would be too unwieldy to negotiate a complex farm bill with all 41 wanting their say. Subsequently, the top 2 Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met and held conference calls numerous times to ensure progress could be made with everyone having a representative at the table. Late Wednesday, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said there were only four issues left undecided:
- Country of origin labeling for imported food products.
- Duplicative catfish inspection processes
- Subsidy limits on crop insurance premiums
- The proposal to prohibit California agricultural policy from becoming national law or policy.
However, within the House delegation, there have been strenuous arguments over the type of dairy policy that will find its way into the final proposal. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson has fought hard for a supply management policy because he says dairymen will overproduce. Speaker John Boehner is adamantly opposed, and dairy policy remains unresolved.
If Lucas is saving those issues for the other members of the committee to resolve, details should start emerging on Thursday. If the unsettled points are resolved Thursday or Friday in a meeting of the Conference Committee, look for the full details to be revealed by the weekend. If they are, a vote on the farm bill could come next week, and if approved the 2014 farm bill will be turned over to USDA for implementation and program sign-up.
The farm bill process was launched in 2011 with hearings, and then delayed because of budget considerations, then extended for a year, and now has come into 2014 without a resolution. However, that point may be near, once final issues are negotiated and the full Conference Committee has a chance to vote on what its leaders have compromised. With prospects for the agreement to become law within the next ten days, USDA will soon implement the bill and announce dates for farmers to sign up for the programs.
Source: FarmGate blog