“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s been an attempt to get an early start on this farm bill. The last one was put in place way too late.

“After all the dust settled, implementation was fast and furious. That isn’t how the process should work.

“The (last farm bill) should have been passed earlier. USDA should have more time to do a better job of implementing (farm bills) without pressure to deliver benefit within a few months. That isn’t the way the system is supposed to work.

“So, it’s understandable that a lot of groups have gotten out there early on the farm bill. (Minnesota Rep.) Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has led the charge to get an early start. His committee has already held a number of hearings on that.

“There are two problems.

“First, we don’t know what the makeup of the House and Senate agriculture committees will be next year. Obviously, there’s an election coming up in about six weeks. The makeup and heads of those committees could well change. Even if the leadership doesn’t change, there will be a lot of new committee members who have never been through a farm bill debate. There will be a huge education associated with those new members.

“Second, again, is the budget and resources available for the farm bill. That will be determined by broader macro-economic policy for the country.

“Serious farm bill debate can’t begin until those two issues are settled. Despite wanting to get an early start, despite hearings and getting out the chute early, there’s only so much that can be done without those two issues settling out.

“My guess is, once again, we’ll be right up against the deadline before finishing the next farm bill.”