This is just starting to get absolutely ridiculous.
As you may or may not remember, the Farm Bill expired at the end of 2013. Congress failed in 2012 and in 2013 to pass a comprehensive bill, after some extensions of the 2008 bill. Both houses managed to pass their own versions of the bill, but the conference committee has been able to find enough common ground to get a bill voted on in both chambers.
We were promised that there would be action in “early” January. (Remember – we’re trying to avoid the “dairy cliff” and all that.)
To no one’s surprise (at least, I don’t think…), we’re still stalled in the middle of January without a Farm Bill. So, what seems to be the issue now? According to Politico, there is a feud brewing between House Speaker John Boehner and the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson over dairy policy.
At issue is a new margin insurance initiative for dairy farmers which would include supply management tools to guard against over production. Peterson has argued that the supply controls are vital to keep down the cost of the insurance program. But Boehner believes the increased government role amounts to a bridge-too-far in a world of dairy policy which the speaker is already fond of comparing to the former Soviet Union.
Indeed Boehner sounded this theme again in his weekly press conference on Thursday. “The Soviet-style dairy program we have will continue, but let’s not make it any worse by including supply and management tools,” the speaker said. “I’ve fought off the supply and management ideas for 23 years that I have been in Congress, and my position hasn’t changed, and Mr. Peterson and others are well aware of it.”
Asked directly if he would block the farm bill conference report from coming back to the House floor if it did include the Peterson supply management language, Boehner suggested Lucas would protect him from having to make that decision.
“I am confident that the conference report will not include supply and management provisions for the dairy program,” the speaker said.
Lucas said that in his own conversations with Boehner, the speaker had warned him explicitly. “His statement to me was that if supply management is in it, it’s not coming to the floor. Flat out,” Lucas said.
So, it seems that for now, we’re stuck between the two sides without any resolution.