The fast track to the 2012 farm bill has ended with a stop sign.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a joint statement Nov. 21 that the failure of the Joint Select Committee to reach a deal on an overall deficit reduction package also has ended the effort to produce an accelerated farm bill.
The co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, released a statement Nov. 21 that said the committee was unable to come to a bipartisan agreement on how to cut the deficit.
That ended work on a fast-track farm bill.
“House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders developed a bipartisan, bicameral proposal for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that would save $23 billion,” the lawmakers said.
However, because the so-called Super Committee did not produce an overall deficit reduction package, the House and Senate agriculture leaders said they have abandoned immediate work on the farm bill. Lucas and Stabenow did not release the legislative language of what they developed, though the Environmental Working Group published a summary.
“We will continue the process of reauthorizing the farm bill in the coming months, and will do so with the same bipartisan spirit that has historically defined the work of our committees,” according to the statement.
The current farm bill expires at the end of September 2012.
Agriculture committee leadership did accomplish something despite the failure of the Super Committee, said Tom Stenzel, president of the Washington D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
“I think that the only real good news is that you did see this bipartisan effort, a building of the relationship between Chairman Lucas and Chairman Stabenow,” he said. “For specialty crops, we felt like we had a very good title put in place.”
That will become the basis for developing the farm bill next year, Stenzel said.
“A lot of progress was made with this initiative,” he said. “I think you have basically found the framework for agreement and that framework we are going to work very hard to hold on to.”