It's a New Year. But if you think a 2012 Farm Bill is just around the corner—think again.
John Maguire, vice president of Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council, told the ongoing Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando, Florida that the U.S. Congress will be slow on developing any new farm act—especially in an election year.
Maguire says Congress missed a golden opportunity to lock in a $23 billion as U.S. agriculture's share of federal deficit reduction. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma), had offered up that plan in 2011 in good faith. But the reasonable offer never made it through Congress as the House and Senate and Administration continued bi-partisan bickering right up to the holiday break into the New Year without an agricultural spending agreement. Maguire says it is slightly possible agriculture might get a chance at that again and soon—but very unlikely.
What's far more likely is that the U.S. Congress eventually will begin developing a new Farm Bill under what's called "regular order." In other words—that's both Houses of Congress, various conference committees, and so forth—a real long haul. In fact, considering it is a Presidential Election Year, and with the current political environment, Maguire would not be surprised if a new Farm Bill is not adopted until the current farm bill expires. So, if a 2012 Farm Bill cannot be crafted before the November election, Maguire suspects it could be Year 2013 before an agreement, and producers see any new farm law to give them indication into future farm policy. In addition, the chance to hold agricultural cuts to $23 billion already may have been missed with the failed 2011 effort. Maguire says the NCC has kept working to remind Congress that the output for all U.S. commodity programs and crop insurance is only 2% of the federal budget.
The Capitol Hill veteran for the Council was named senior vice president of Washington Operations for the NCC in 2003. He has the formidable responsibility for coordinating NCC's Washington activities including communicating the industry's positions on policy to Members of Congress and their staffs, as well as with Administration officials. He became a member of the NCC staff in 1979 when he was appointed Far East director for the NCC's export promotion arm, Cotton Council International and was based in Hong Kong. Maguire returned to Washington, D.C. and assumed additional responsibilities as assistant director of NCC Foreign Operations in 1982. He became head of NCC's Washington Operations in 1986.