As far as Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is concerned the draft farm bill developed for the failed deficit reduction Super Committee by Ag Committee leaders is not the starting point for the next farm bill. For one thing, the long-time Ag Committee member doesn't believe the bill will pass as it was drafted by the Ag Committee Chairs.
Since the Agriculture Committee Chairs put together no legislative language for their now-defunct plan to reduce farm bill spending by $23 billion over 10 years, the process goes back to the Ag Committees, charged with making at least $15 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts.
"You have to with the proposition that this was the product of basically two people," Grassley said. "There's probably 35 or 40 people on the House Ag Committee and there's 20 on the Senate committee, so when they get their fingers in the pie it's probably going to look a little bit different."
The one silver lining is that prior crop insurance obligations and food stamps are exempt from automatic cuts, lending a political boost for the farm bill from those constituencies. But was it a political gamble for the Ag Chairs to offer up a certain dollar amount for ag cuts instead of no number? Grassley says it put a floor under ag cuts as compared to the $15 billion in automatic cuts.
"People are going to be targeting agriculture for more," Grassley said. " And I think that Chairman (Frank) Lucas (R-Okla.) has made that pretty definitive to Senators as he looks at next year's difficulty in passing a farm bill."
Grassley says if there's no farm bill by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1 he sees the continuation of existing programs minus direct payments with some kind of revenue assurance program.