by Mary Zaki
The Deadline Has Passed, What Programs Have Stopped Operating?
The September 30th deadline has come and gone with no new Farm Bill nor extension to the 2014 Farm Bill. Hence, several programs no longer have a budget and can no longer operate. The figure below from the Congressional Research Service provides the list of the 39 programs spanning ten Farm Bill Titles that have ceased operation (either partially or fully) as a result of the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill. These programs represent 100% of Rural Development spending, 71% of Energy Title spending, 50% of Research Title spending and 25% of Horticulture Title spending.
Furthermore, there are programs that no longer have the authority to operate fully beyond the deadline (despite availability of funding). Among them are two major conservation programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which are no longer accepting or processing new applications. Among conservations programs, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program are currently still operational due to a prior budget agreement and carryover funds, respectively, as reported in Agri-Pulse.
Current Status of Negotiations
The "Big Four" agriculture leaders in Congress: Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have most recently met on Thursday of this week. These negotiators are not close to a compromise according to media reports. Specifically, Politico's Morning Agriculture reports that the current impasse in negotiations is concerning provisions in the Commodity title of the House bill that would favor subsidy distributions to farmers of the Southern Plains (e.g., cotton farmers) over farmers of other regions. Rep. Conway, who has a significant cotton farmer constituency in Texas, is receiving pushback for his resistance to compromise on this House provision from Sen. Stabenow as well as mid-West Republican Sen, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Chuck Grassley also stated in a teleconference on Tuesday of this week that for a Farm Bill to pass before December, Rep. Conway and other House Republicans would have to back away from their provisions on SNAP work requirements, cotton subsidies and the removal of payment limitations.
Calendar for the Farm Bill or Extension
If no compromise is made in the coming week, then the next opportunity for a move on a new Farm Bill or an extension to the 2014 Farm Bill will not occur until after the November elections, as the House is in recess until then.