Partisan politics and an ever closer election could keep the farm bill off the congressional agenda until the lame duck session.
Though the Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June and the House Agriculture Committee moved its bill out of committee, House Republican leadership has not yet indicated when the farm bill will be considered by the full House.
Despite a worsening drought gripping much of the Midwest, House Republican leaders have not secured enough votes to move the bill.
Kam Quarles, director of legislative affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based McDermott Will & Emery law firm, said agriculture interests are pushing hard for Congress to complete work on the bill.
“It may be tough for individual members of Congress to go home to drought-stricken districts without there being movement on the farm bill,” Quarles said.
Dale Moore, deputy executive director at the Washington, D.C.-based American Farm Bureau Federation, said other issues are stealing the spotlight from the farm bill, including appropriations, health care and regulatory reform.
“The farm bill just isn’t breaking through that priority list,” he said.
Moore said the odds are perhaps 50-50 that Congress completes work on the farm bill before the November election.
Both the Senate farm bill and the House Agriculture Committee farm bill have provisions that would assist specialty crop producers hit by the drought.