Three Purdue University agricultural economists agree that another extension of 2008 farm legislation is a distinct possibility following the U.S. House's defeat of the proposed farm bill.

Chris Hurt, Otto Doering and Roman Keeney, who closely follow developments of farm legislation, question whether Republican leadership in the House will allow debate on the contents of the farm bill again anytime soon.

With the one-year extension set to expire at the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, farmers could see another extension of the five-year agricultural spending plan.

"There was just too much in the bill to dislike," Hurt said. "Too many amendments passed at the last moment that changed the bill."

One amendment in particular, sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), would have given states the power to require food stamp recipients to seek work while on the program. That brought a backlash from Democrats and was key to the bill's failure Thursday (June 20).

Without passage of a farm bill, farm legislation would revert to a 1949 law that could lead to steep price increases on some items, including milk, for consumers. Legislators avoided that scenario by extending the 2008 farm bill in late December as dairy subsidies were scheduled to expire and the nation also was about to fall off the "fiscal cliff."

"We cannot go without a farm bill because the 1949 legislation has too extreme of consequences," Hurt said. "So odds may favor a second year of extension of the old farm bill."

Doering believes the bill foundered on elements not directly related to agriculture — primarily the battle over how much spending should be cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, and from commodity programs.

"There was the lack of real budget cuts in either the Senate or House version for either the food or the commodity titles, which rankled those conservatives wanting to make substantive, deep budget cuts," Doering said.