A Farm Bill Extension is Not a Recent Exception

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in early November offered his opinion on the fate of a new farm bill this year.

We’re not going to have a farm bill passed before December 31.

And just this past weekend, chairs and ranking members of both Senate and House Agriculture committees announced a one year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill. Secretary Vilsack previously said an extension, if a new farm bill was not reached by the end of this year, would be needed and essential.

Because we don’t want the program to lapse because if we were to lapse, there would be serious consequences to the farmers, but also has very serious consequences to the economy and to consumers.

This would not be the first time a farm bill failed to become farm law in a timely manner, as University of Illinois professor and former USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess explains.

Typically it does take more than one Congress in one year to get a farm bill done. So if in fact we get into extension territory, or this drags out past 2023, we are not in an anomalous situation.

Coppess spoke at a recent Farm Foundation forum about a new farm bill and what it might contain. In terms of examples of farm bills that were crafted past the year of originally-intended date of completion…

The Farm Bill 1996 began in 1995, complicated by budget issues. What became the 2002 Farm Bill really began being debated in 2001. So that stretched over multiple years. Again, what became the 2008 Farm Bill started in 2007. And the current record holder for the longest stretch is the Farm Bill that got enacted in early 2014. And it really began in 2011 (and was supposed to have been) reauthorized in 2012. And then the 2018 Farm Bill is actually the only one in recent history that has been reauthorized within the year of the expiration.