The fate of the farm bill seems to be largely up in the air as lawmakers inch ever closer to August recess without a concrete plan for a way forward.
Closed-door talks are reportedly ongoing, but no decisions have been reached regarding the farm bill that has been in limbo since earlier this month when the House passed a "farm-only" farm bill without the controversial nutrition title.
Lawmakers have been relatively quiet on the issue, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Thursday offered a little glimpse of the House Republicans' plan, noting a nutrition title bill would "eventually" be considered in order to come together on a conference with the Senate.
But even if conferees are named and the wheels start turning, three University economists point out that there's going to be at least a handful of big policy differences, aside from the spread that separates the Senate's proposed $4 billion in nutrition title cuts and the House Republicans' desired $20 billion.
The economists – Purdue's Mike Boehlje, University of Illinois' Gary Schnitkey and The Ohio State University's Carl Zulauf – said in a July 18 webinar that there are three major elements that will frame the farm bill debate in conference.
First, focus of discussion will rest on fundamental differences in each branch's "keep-cull" priorities.
For example, the Senate insists that the nutrition title stay with farm policy, that current permanent farm bill laws remain in place, and that reforms include revenue support. In contrast, the House policies have separated nutrition and farm policies, repealed permanent farm bill laws, and focused on price support.
The economists point out that the price vs. revenue support is a fundamental difference that could have a big impact on decisions in crop planting, given that the compensation structure would be significantly altered.