The U.S. House and Senate have voted to extend the farm bill for nine months, bringing a disappointing end to efforts by farm lobbyists to enact a new five-year farm bill in 2012.
Despite the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passing versions of farm bills that were favorable to specialty crop interests, there was never an opportunity for a compromise to be passed.
The extension bill, sent to President Obama for his signature on Jan. 2, extends the current farm bill passed in 2008 until the end of September. Some programs important to the Christmas Tree industry, such as specialty crop block grants, will continue. However, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative is among the programs that are authorized but will not receive mandatory funding through the extension unless Congress can be convinced otherwise.
With the last of the business in the lame duck session of the 112th Congress done Jan. 1, the new Congress begins Jan. 3. The Farm Bill will need to be redrafted in the coming months and reconsidered by both chambers before the Sept. 30, 2013, deadline.