Washington, DC (January 15, 2013) – Congress failed to reauthorize the Farm Bill in 2012, so as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal, simply extended the current Farm Bill through September 30th, 2013. This nine-month extension means the 2012 Farm Bill that the full Senate passed in June is likely dead. Some of the provisions of the 2012 Farm Bill, passed by the Senate and House agriculture committee, but never brought to the full House for a vote, however, might be incorporated into the replacement bill.
While the deal doesn’t give mandatory funding to energy programs in the Farm Bill, it does extend most conservation provisions that are already (or set to be) expired, like the Wetlands Reserve Program and Healthy Forests Reserve Program. The Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and the Conservation Stewardship Program were authorized through 2014 in a 2012 continuing resolution, and were therefore not susceptible to expiration on September 30th.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was “disappointed” that Congress provided only an extension to the 2008 Farm Bill rather than approving a new five-year bill, and vowed to encourage action to get a better Farm Bill authorized. Read his comments. Failure to pass a new Farm Bill in 2012 sets the stage for new negotiations with a newly-elected Congress.
The new, 113th Congress will begin the process of reauthorizing a five-year Farm Bill from scratch. Law makers may also find it challenging to negotiate a Farm Bill as Congress searches for ways to cut costs beginning March 1, 2013.
The House of Representatives has tentatively set a Farm Bill mark-up hearing for February 27th. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack remains committed to working with Congress to work towards passing a reauthorized five-year Farm Bill.