With drawn-out negotiations on dairy policy apparently over, a new five-year farm bill could be presented for debate in the House as early as late January.

“I’m very optimistic that the farm bill will be done in the next two weeks,” said Dennis Nuxoll, vice president of federal government affairs in the Washington, D.C., office of Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers.

According to members of Congress, the conference report on the farm bill could be completed by early the week of Jan. 27, said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.

While timing for final resolution of the farm bill is unclear, Tom O’Brien, Washington, D.C.-based representative for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, said farm bill negotiators made progress on finalizing provisions for the dairy programs, one of the last sticking points in the negotiations.

Ironing out details of the compromise language on dairy, discussions about payment limits to growers and possible revisions to the country of origin law for meat still makes the outlook somewhat clouded for the farm bill, said Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition policy director, Washington, D.C. Hoefner said Jan. 23 that negotiators don’t have too much time before a long term extension to the existing farm bill must be considered.

“It kind of feels like it is at a now or never point,” he said.