According to Senate aids, an agreement has almost been reached by Senate leaders to limit the number of amendments allowed on the 2007 Farm Bill. The proposed deal would give Democrats five amendments and Republicans 10, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has agreed to allow a few non-germane amendments such as one addressing the estate tax.
It has been said that if the agreement is reached, Senate work on the bill could be completed in two days. Even if that happens, the bill would have to be reconciled with the House version which varies greatly from the current legislation under consideration in the Senate. And beyond that there is still the threat of a Presidential veto.
Before adjourning for the Thanksgiving break, a bill was introduced in the House to extend the 2002 Farm Bill for another year. American Farm Bureau Federation Public Policy Director Mark Maslyn says there will be resistance to the idea of an extension.
"Politically I think it would harder to get an extension because there has been so much momentum built up toward reform," Maslyn says. "Reform of the commodity programs, more money for nutrition, more money for conservation, more money for fruits and vegetables; and all of those changes from the 2002 bill would not carry through if it was just extended."
Time is running short to complete the Farm Bill. Congress reconvenes Dec. 3 and has just three short weeks to get an acceptable bill through the Senate, a conference committee and to the President's desk.
"I think most of the American people just say get the thing done, particularly in farm country," Maslyn says. "And they don't care as much about the politics of who gets the credit or who gets the blame; they just want some certainty and predictability."