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It appears, for example, that Rep. Stutzman’s vote was largely a move not of principle but a measure of his desire to continue to shovel Farm Bill pork to his congressional district, which Keep Food Legal research shows ranks in the top 15 percent in terms of subsidy dollars. (A call and email to Rep. Stutzman’s office asking for comment for this column were not returned.)
If the split Katz discusses doesn’t happen, then seemingly the easiest and most likely way forward would be for Congress to again extend the existing Farm Bill.
“I think there's a 95% chance that we just see an extension of current law, either for one or two years,” says Andrew Moylan, outreach director and senior fellow with the libertarian R Street Institute, in an email to me. “Crafting a modified comprehensive Farm Bill that makes up the 27 additional votes it would need for passage is exceedingly unlikely, and attempts to compartmentalize subsidies or implement piecemeal reforms like repealing permanent law are unlikely to gain traction in the Senate.”
A USA Today piece this week attempting to predict the way forward for the Farm Bill largely agrees with Moylan’s assessment. But the article also notes that powerful interests in the Senate, including majority leader Harry Reid, have vowed to block any such extension.
“The remaining 5% [chance],” says Moylan, “would be some sort of ‘back-door’ bill (i.e. the House simply attaching the Senate-passed bill to some other must-pass package like a… debt ceiling increase) or attempt to take a House-passed shell and move immediately to conference with the Senate bill.”
Whatever the outcome, you can bank on it being complex and costly. But it doesn’t have to be.
Farming preceded farm subsidies. And it will outlive them with or without Congress’s help.
The game has changed. It's time for Congress to play along.