Writing the new farm bill with a Republican House, a Democrat Senate, and the 2012 presidential election hanging over everything that goes on in Washington “is going to be a little crazy,” says Dale W. Moore.

“It’s going to have a lot of folks scratching their heads, trying to see where things are headed,” he said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation at Jackson.

Then, once the new law is in place, “We’ll have to follow through on the regulations that are written to make sure the administration doesn’t come up with some creative ways to implement them that would not be in agriculture’s best interests.”

Moore, who is the new deputy director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, comes to the organization with a broad background in the legislative and policy arena, having served eight years as chief of staff at USDA, four years as executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, four years as minority counsel for the House Agriculture Committee, and six years as agriculture legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. And he has worked on six farm bills.

When the “Super Committee” on debt reduction failed to come up with its assigned task of developing at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts, Moore says, “the question then became what would happen to the proposed $23 billion in cuts that the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees had put on the table to try and protect the baseline budget for agriculture and serve as a starting point for the discussions of the new farm bill.

“More important to some was the question: Can we get back to square one and start the process over?

“The ag committee chairs  quietly indicated they wanted to go back to ‘regular order’ — to sit down and determine what’s the budget baseline, what’s the policy bottom line they’re going to start from in the farm bill discussions?”

All that, he says, must also be considered in the context of the various groups seeking to influence the debate.

“There are the reformers, like the Environmental Working Group, the Humane Society of the United States, and others that have made a life’s work of trying to reform farm programs and now sense a new opportunity to influence this farm bill process.

“Then, there is Congress, examining all sectors of the budget with a microscope. The non-ag members are looking at high commodity prices, record exports, and a decade’s worth of reports of high net farm income, and they’re saying, ‘Well, if we’re going to take money from someone, we may as well take it from agriculture — they’ve got plenty right now and they don’t need it.’”

Even the $23 billion put forth by the agriculture committees for cuts in spending over the 10-year period was less than the amount of cuts wanted by others, Moore says.

“It was about $8 billion to $10 billion less than leadership on both sides of the Hill had been talking about, and $15 billion to $18 billion less than President Obama’s team was proposing.