The leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees continue to work to reach a consensus on a farm bill recommendation to send to the Super Committee, but time is growing very short as the deadline for the committee is Nov. 23. American Farm Bureau Federation Senior Director of Congressional Relations Mary Kay Thatcher says that at the moment the farm bill is a bit of a mess.
"We have some concerns about them coming with one program that would work for corn, and a different one for cotton, and a different for rice or peanuts. You know I just don't think we have an economist in the country that could come up with equality in those programs," Thatcher said. "A good 20 years ago we got away from the government telling farmers what to plant and instead taking our signals from the marketplace, and we fear that if we go back to having all of these programs that one of them will be richer than the other and farmers will figure that out quickly and we'll be back to producing for the government, which is not a good way to go."
Should the Super Committee fail in their effort to cut $1.2 trillion, sequestration will go into effect making across the board cuts. Thatcher says if that happens the farm bill will be ugly because it will have to be done on the floor next year.
"There are a lot of environmental groups that would like to offer some pretty negative amendments," Thatcher said. "There's the nutrition community that'll want to take from agriculture and put into nutrition so this is a much better way of doing it."
Earlier this year the Super Committee made a statement that they might try to cut $3 or $4 trillion. Thatcher says she sort of chuckled at that notion.
"I don't think they can come up with the $1.2 trillion that they were mandated to do," Thatcher said. "But I do think they can come up with $700 or $800 billion that everybody agrees upon and if they come up with that and we put our $23billion contribution towards the deficit reduction and the farm bill in and we move it then I think we'll be good to go and the across the board cuts for sequestration will only have to be $400 or $500 billion instead of $1.2 trillion."