House Republican leadership is reportedly focusing on a one-year extension of the current farm bill, according to a Politico report this week.  The extension would continue current farm subsidies but would also include immediate disaster aid for livestock and specialty crop producers impacted by the severe weather, Politico noted.

The cost and practicality of this approach is in serious question, however, because House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas cannot count on the support of his ranking Democrat and strong partner on the farm bill, Collin Peterson (D-MN).  At the same time, House Majority Eric Cantor (R-VA) has resisted moving farm legislation forward.

“I think of an extension as the worst idea that I have heard. And I will oppose it,” Peterson said. “I don’t see it gets us any place other than get them out of this corner that they’ve painted themselves into. That’s what this is about,” he added.

Lucas, who is said to be taking the temperature of his Republican committee members this week, is more open to an extension of the current farm program and expects to have Peterson’s backing on at least shoring up disaster aid for those producers without crop insurance.

“The feeling of leadership is a one-year extension provides certainty to folks out on the farms,” Lucas said. “All the pieces are in play. I think this is an acknowledgment of what Mother Nature is doing out in the countryside, but the challenge is many fold. I’m very fond of passing farm policy in a bipartisan way, not straight down a party-line vote.”

“The livestock feed assistance programs are out of money,” he said. “The livestock producers–who now have a shorter supply of feed grain and at a higher price— don’t have any insurance product. They are the ones most exposed. I believe that adding one year to the present farm bill would provide certainty, which is always good for how farmers and ranchers sleep at night. I know that something has to happen on the livestock part of the equation,” Lucas said.

 

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