Budget concerns will continue to dominate the farm bill debate as well as other matters as the U.S. Congress works its way through what are likely to be contentious issues over the next few months.

“I am hopeful we will get a farm bill done,” said Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas-19, in an address to the 56thannual meeting of the Plains Cotton Growers in Lubbock, Texas.  

Neugebauer, who serves as Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, said he thought the House made progress toward a farm bill last year. “I felt like we had a good bill out of the House Agriculture Committee last year, and I think we will start where we left off.”

But the budget remains a sticking point. “The fiscal concerns affect the farm bill, and we now have a different baseline than we did with the last farm bill. We have to work within those parameters.”

Neugebauer says the House Agriculture Committee also works with a different make-up than when they crafted the last proposal. “We have a lot of new members, Republican and Democrat. It will take a lot of education,” to bring some of those new members, many of whom do not come from rural districts, up to speed, he said.

He said farmers need a five-year farm program, not another extension. “They have a lot of capital at risk and need a five-year bill to help make decisions.”

He said a crop insurance bill he’s proposed would “give producers the ability to carry higher levels of coverage to better manage risks. I hope that become part of the next farm bill.”

The nutrition title of the farm bill will be scrutinized, Neugebauer said.