What Are the Next Steps for Farm Bill?

Former USDA chief of staff looks at the future of farm bill deliberations.

Published on: Dec 14, 2011

A former USDA Chief of Staff is optimistic that Ag Committee leaders on Capitol Hill and farm and commodity groups will put their differences aside when work resumes next year on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Dale Moore, who served eight years as USDA Chief of Staff during the Bush Administration and is now the Deputy Executive Director of Public Policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation, views the ag policy deliberations that occurred during the Super Committee process as a scrimmage.

"We have two new chairs of our Agriculture Committees that have never been through this kind of a tussle," Moore said. "Essentially we had a scrimmage, not everyone came out of it happy and there are a lot of bruised egos in Washington. I think they are going to lay all of that out on the table and they are going to start going down through it saying here's how much money we have for Title I and they are going to count on the farm groups and commodity groups to come up with a way to work together to put that package in."

Moore says the biggest downside to not passing a farm bill through the Super Committee is that deeper spending cuts are probably coming.

"When they laid out that $23 billion of cuts; $15 billion out of Title I and then they kind of segmented it through conservation, nutrition, and rural development," Moore said. "They basically set a floor so when this farm bill debate starts moving forward I really think it's going to shock a lot of people if the number is any smaller than $23 billion over ten years."

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., plans to restart work on the farm bill in late January or early February. Moore says Farm Bureau is using the time between now and then to fine-tune its Systemic Risk Reduction proposal for the farm safety net.