Farm Press Blog

What happens if Congress fails to act on House farm bill?

  • House leaders have not scheduled the House Ag Committee farm bill for a vote.
  • Some believe it's now or never for a renewal of the five-year farm legislation
  • New Congress and administration may not consider legislation a priority.

That’s a question that has a lot of the experts stumped. As you can see in another article on the Farm Press websites,, feelings are far from unanimous.

What does appear to be coming through is that writing a farm bill will be much more difficult when a new Congress and perhaps a new administration takes office in January. That means farmers and ranchers have a decision to make in the next few days, one that could affect their future far beyond what happens in 2013 or 2014.

The decision is whether to tell their member of Congress to ask House Speaker John Boehner to bring the House Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill, the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act, to the floor for a vote.

As Congress returned to Washington for a short pre-election business session this week, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have not scheduled time to take up the House Ag Committee bill. Instead, most of the time will be spent on restoring cuts to defense spending so that the Pentagon can have even more planes and ships than it says it needs and on legislation aimed at embarrassing the administration on the Solyndra fiasco.

Farm organizations led by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union staged a Farm Bill Now rally yesterday near the Capitol. The rally attended by hundreds of farmers was aimed at persuading the House Republican leadership to put the House Ag Committee farm bill on the calendar for a vote before Congress recesses to return to campaigning.

But there’s little indication Boehner will act because there’s no assurance that he has the votes to pass the bill without making further cuts in the food stamp program, cuts which House Democrats oppose and the Democratic majority in the Senate will reject.

So what’s the decision farmers have to make? If you want another farm bill, you need to contact your member of Congress and ask them to vote for the House Ag Committee bill. And that means every congressional district that has a farmer in it. If you don’t want another farm bill, you don’t have to do anything.

That may sound like a dire prediction because “there has always been a farm bill.” But a growing number of observers believe that as difficult as this farm bill fight has been next year will be even worse. And with a new Congress and possibly a new administration, it may be next to impossible to pass any farm legislation in 2013 or 2014, if ever. 

For more on this topic, see

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

electedface (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2012

Editor's note: Farm Press normally does not allow the posting of computer-generated comments to its content. However, the video contained in this link expresses information we believe can add to the debate over the next farm bill:

"Want to pass the farm bill? Sign the petition! Want to prevent the farm bill? Voice your opinion!"

Howad D. Cole (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2012

Congress needs to separate the Farm Bill from the Food Stamp /Welfare Bill.
The Farm part of the Farm Bill is minute when compared to the welfare part of the Bill. We will quickly find out how much the citizens of the U.S of A. appreciate and will support the inexpensive, safe and reliable source of U.S. farmer produced food really is. If this is not done then call it what it really is, THE WELFARE BILL and not the Farm Bill, since about 90% of the funding in the bill is for welfare and food stamps etc. and 10% is for funding the Farm part of the bill.
Howard D. Cole

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