On philosophical differences between the House and Senate approaches…

“On the Commodity Title the philosophical difference is flex versus fixed safety net support.

“The flex approach is reflected in the Senate bill. The ARC isn’t useful particularly if you have multi-year price declines. That’s because as prices drop, the support mechanism declines because the ARC revenue guarantee is based on a moving average.

“The House, basically, through reference prices, retains the fixed price safety net mechanism – at least on the revenue side.

“Philosophically, both (bills) are moving toward more reliance on risk management and using crop insurance but there are significant differences in how they address shallow loss.

“The Senate bill says, ‘We’ll go with the market. If the market says prices will be lower then our support will be lower.’

“The United States is a price-maker on corn and soybeans – so for those commodities maybe that makes some sense. But when we’re relying on the world market to set our prices in rice and peanuts, we’re much more vulnerable to the volatilities that arise.

“Regarding the Commodity Title, I assume there will some accommodation on the Senate side for southern crops more than (the farm bill it passed) reflected. Where those reference prices will end up, who knows?”

On the Nutrition Title…

“I think the Nutrition Title is where the big donnybrook will be (in conference). The House wants a $16 billion cut versus the Senate’s $4 billion – a significant difference.

“The big issue is that a segment of the House majority wants even more than the $33 billion cut from the House farm bill versus urban congressmen who are adamant in minimizing the cuts to the Nutrition Title.

“It will be a real struggle, I think, to even get a House farm bill. Never mind moving to reconcile two bills. It is going to be very difficult for House leadership to gather the votes to pass a farm bill this year. I don’t think they can – otherwise, they’d have done it in August.

“And as we move closer to the election, there’s less incentive. They won’t want to create divisiveness in their party. And if they win big in November, there’d be even greater reluctance to do anything in the lame duck session.

“It’s a pretty dismal outlook and Congress should be embarrassed. Both the farm bills were passed through the agriculture committees in a bipartisan manner. It’s a very sad commentary on the whole political environment that the House can’t get something done.”

Full farm bill coverage here.