Republican Senator Joni Ernst says she’s still hopeful a group of negotiators can agree on a new Farm Bill, but she says that may not happen until after next month’s election. Ernst is the only Iowan on the congressional committee trying to come up with a compromise.
The 2014 Farm Bill expired September 30. Congress is supposed to revisit federal food and ag policy issues every five years and vote to reauthorize the Farm Bill.
“If it is possible to bring the House and the Senate together, get to a consensus, do that after the midterm election, maybe we would be able to get the Farm Bill reauthorized by the end of the year,” Ernst says. “If that does not happen, then we would be looking at some sort of extension.”
Voting to keep the the 2014 Farm Bill policies in place for another year is an option. Congress has used temporary extensions in the past when negotiations over a new Farm Bill have faltered.
“I would much rather have the Farm Bill reauthorized than go through these short-term extensions,” Ernst says.
A few federal programs have been impacted since the Farm Bill expired five days ago.
“However, SNAP and crop insurance, they are still good to go,” Ernst says. “No worries there, those remain in place.” SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also referred to as food stamps.
Having the so-called “lame duck” congress approve the next Farm Bill in November or December — after the election — is not unprecedented. The 1970 and 1990 Farm Bills were passed in the weeks after the mid-term elections in those years. The 2014 Farm Bill was actually supposed to be passed in 2013, but it took congress 21 months to come up with a final deal that could pass both the House and Senate.