Furniture sits in the hallways of the Capitol, staffers serving out-going members of Congress have turned in their cell phones and keys, and staffers for new members of Congress are awaiting direction on where to go. All the while, the House and Senate quibble back and forth about what to do regarding the fiscal cliff and the farm bill. Leadership has instructed Congress to make no travel plans over the holidays. Will anything get done? Here’s an update on where things stand.
Illinois Corn has “boots on the ground,” so to speak, on the Hill. Our sources say that things are looking pretty tough with regard to a consensus on how to deal with the fiscal cliff. It had been previously thought that farm bill talks would be wrapped into a bill to deal with the nation’s debt and finances.
In a publication titled Politico, House Ag Committee chair Frank Lucas was quoted as saying, “Just last week, the Agriculture Committees were predicting agreement soon on how to rewrite the commodity title and replace the current system of direct cash payments to producers. But Tuesday’s tone was much more skeptical, and House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) warned his party it had to be prepared ‘for how consumers will react at the grocery store when a gallon of milk doubles.’
“I was a very hopeful fellow a few days ago. I’m becoming pessimistic,’ Lucas told POLITICO after a meeting of House committee chairs in the Capitol. ‘I’m trying to explain to everybody what the consequences are. I’m going to push to the last moment, but I would acknowledge to you that if we can’t make progress, something has to happen.”
Best guess from farm bill experts is that with no farm bill in 2012, crop insurance will be targeted. Compared to the pre-2008 funding, the program has already taken a $14 billion hit.