Possible Scenarios for Moving on the Farm Bill

Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson is not optimistic.

Published on: Dec 6, 2011

The Super Committee deficit reduction effort failed - and now Congress is actually looking for ways to spend more money. Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, spoke to the American Crystal Sugar Company meeting in a video link from Washington, D.C. Rather than focusing on the deficit, Peterson said his colleagues are considering unemployment taxes, payroll tax cuts, and the alternative minimum tax - proposals that would cost $450 billion. Peterson said budget offsets are needed, and that could impact the farm bill.

"So there is a slim chance that the work that we did and the $23 billion reduction may be called upon in that process to help them come up with the money to pay these other ideas," Peterson said. "We'll see what happens and we're in a waiting mode now to see how that process plays out, The idea I think is to start in early February in the House. Probably have a couple of hearings and then get into marking up the bill."

Peterson believes the work accomplished by the ag committee leadership will be used as the foundation for the 2012 Farm Bill. To avoid election-year politics Peterson would like to have the farm bill done by May. But the ranking member is not optimistic.

"I am not at all confident that we are going to be able to get a bill through the floor of the House that is going to be very good for agriculture or frankly that I can live with, and I'm not sure they can in the Senate either," Peterson said. "Or we could end up in a situation where we have a House bill that cuts a substantial amount of money out of our jurisdiction, there's been talk maybe as much as $80 billion some of the Republicans want to cut out of the farm bill. The Senate is more likely to come in at $10 or $15 billion. If we ended up in a situation like that I don't know how you conference a bill that is that far apart."