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Budget talks collapse brings farm bill back into the light

December 2, 2011
By Walt Williams

The supercommittees failure to reach a budget deal has lifted negotiations surrounding reauthorization of the farm bill back into the open, much to the relief of some associations representing farmers and ranchers.

House and Senate agriculture committee chairmen upset several agriculture groups when they announced earlier this year they planned to hammer out the bill largely behind closed doors, and then include it in whatever compromise emerged from the supercommittee. That left many groups with little influence on what had historically been a long, visible process.

You basically had no input except to yell about what was in there you didnt like, and that obviously is not a very good process, said International Dairy Foods Association CEO Connie Tipton, who had also expressed concerns about lawmakers throwing a separate but related dairy bill into the mix.

Especially worrying for farm groups was that lawmakers were considering $23 billion in cuts to agriculture programs.

Even now we dont know what was in their proposal, said Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association.