The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have some reconciling to do to pass a 2012 or 2013 farm bill.

On June 21, the Senate passed its version of the 2012 farm bill titled “Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act” (S. 3240).  Along with other program cuts, the Senate bill reflects significant changes in farm legislation, particularly in terms of how these would affect the commodity and conservation provisions in the 2008 farm bill.

Days later, the House Agriculture Committee unveiled its version of the new farm bill, titled the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRH, H.R. 6083), for review. FARRM includes changes in the commodity provisions and significant cuts in the nutrition title in this version of the new farm bill.

While it is likely the House ag committee version will be reworked, a challenge will involve reconciling the differences in provisions between the Senate and House versions, according to Jim Novak, Auburn University professor of agricultural economics and Alabama Cooperative Extension System economist.

How the reconciliation plays out over the next year or so remains an open question at this point, he says.

“Some observers speculate the House ag version of the bill will never come up to a full vote in the House,” Novak says, adding that reconciliation may involve the full House voting only on the Senate version of the bill. 

(See additional farm bill coverage here).

Lawmakers have also explored the merits of a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill.

“In any case, a House/Senate conference will be held to iron out differences,” Novak said. “While alternative strategies have been discussed, it remains to be seen which, if any, will ultimately be adopted.”

Commodity loan program provisions of the Senate bill remain essentially the same as the one outlined in the 2008 farm bill. However, both bills repeal all direct payments and ACRE.

The Senate version also repeals the counter-cyclical program payment. The House Agriculture Committee’s bill proposal also repeals ACRE, direct payments and the CCP program, but replaces them with what some are calling a program similar to the counter-cyclical program payment.