"When the 112th Congress ends, all the legislation that is pending there ends too, so if we don't get a farm fill through by 2013 it's not necessarily starting over, but they do have to go through everything and go thorough any procedural issues that get decided by the committee's leadership," Jagger noted.
Many groups have long voiced concern about the lack of action on the farm bill, some even joining the Farm Bill Now coalition, urging the House to bring the bill to the floor. Some have even speculated that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program is the hang-up for many legislators.
Hoefner noted that the apprehension regarding SNAP funding seems to be centered on a few House Republicans. There have also been rumblings of moving SNAP funding into a block grant system, which Hoefner said would eventually turn SNAP into a cyclical program that doesn't "ebb and flow" with the state of the economy.
Though some believe SNAP spending is increasing at the expense of farm programs, Hoefner says it doesn't.
"There's an assumption, I think, amongst people who promote separating SNAP from the farm bill – that somehow that's going to make the farm part of the farm bill easier to pass. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, quite the opposite. I think we'd be heading towards the end of farm bills as we know them if we went down that road."
Overall, funding and tax concerns have generated a considerable amount of chatter from many ag stakeholders. The "fiscal cliff" – a term used to describe the expiring tax and spending cuts that take effect in January – has been increasingly lumped into farm bill discussion.
"Many people think the only way we can get a farm bill is if it is a budget offset for fiscal cliff costs," Jagger notes, but "we still don't know how much deficit reduction will be required."
Tax issues this election have also played a key part in the overall view of the farm bill, Jagger says, because estate and income taxes will see huge changes next year, playing into the budgets of producers themselves.
Despite the ongoing speculation about the path of the farm bill, the range of factors involved make it nearly impossible to determine a final outcome, Jagger notes, "there's just so much uncertainty here."