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Outlook for Farm Bill Improves

Though few specifics were released, key members of the House-Senate farm bill conference committee expressed optimism about the progress made in their mid-week negotiating sessions. The committee will still be hard-pressed to finalize a bill before the end of the year, because only a handful of legislative days remain before the scheduled House adjournment date of Dec. 13. But committee members said differences have definitely narrowed in several key areas, which improves the chances of reaching a workable compromise soon.

When addressing reporters Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did not seem to share this optimism – stating that he had seen few signs of significant progress on the farm bill. Boehner did, however, express support for a one-month extension* of the 2008 farm bill, which would allow the conference committee to extend its work on finalizing a new bill into January 2014. News reports suggest that a House vote on such an extension might be held next week.

*NOTE: The 2008 farm bill expired Sept. 30, but funding for many programs continues through the end of the year.