Farm bill negotiators continue to struggle with two final issues–coming up with a compromise on dairy subsidies and how to structure payment limits.  The best shot for passage appears to be filing the bill on Monday night and setting up a quick vote next Wednesday in the House, sources close to the negotiations said.  The House breaks for recess on Wednesday for the annual Republican retreat.  House and Senate Agriculture staffs continue to speak hopefully of filing a bill prior to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday evening. That timeline for the farm bill would mirror the recent blitz vote on the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.

The torturous debate on the final issues continue to swirl around the question of how far government should go to protect farmers from bad times.  In the diary negotiations, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is adamant that he will not accept the hands-on approach espoused in the Senate bill to manage future milk supplies to protect dairy farmers’ margins.  In the case of payment limits, it is also a question of balancing government’s role and the risks of modern agriculture.