Second, and similarly, the overall direction the farm bill is headed for payout structures is in contrast to previous bills. The currently proposed bill puts the focus on risk management, as coverage would likely decrease from the current ACRE program, economists said.
Third, a difference that received significant discussion prior to House and Senate votes, is the issue of payout structures for Southern farmers growing cotton, peanuts and rice. Some stakeholders in the debate support the idea, viewing it as a transitional step that would unite Southern farmers with Midwestern farmers under a similar support policy.
Doing so would compensate for the loss of the higher direct payments to which Southern farmers are accustomed, the professors said.
Going forward, the professors explained several plausible scenarios for the farm bill:
1. The conference committee reaches an agreement
2. The old farm bill continues
3. The old farm bill is extended, possibly with a reduction in direct payments
4. Current law could be revoked causing an end to commodity programs and leaving crop insurance as the safety net
The future of farm policy has been relatively muddy over the past two years, between farm bill extensions, bill-splitting and feet-dragging, but Zulauf said the potential for a two-year extension of the farm bill is a very real scenario, given 2014 is an election year.
View the professors' full presentation here, and read more on the farm bill's past:
House Passes 'Farm-Only' Farm Bill
Proposition of Farm Bill Split Has Long Road Ahead
Means to An End for Senate Farm Bill?
House Rejects Farm Bill 195-234