"It's really important to understand the broadly divergent individual reasons lawmakers voted against the bill. Only by attaining this understanding can you arrive at a compromise that will pass. The objective is to get a bill passed. The farm bill is an omnibus bill and thus, has to satisfy a broad range of constituency concerns in order to move the bill forward."

Going forward, the House Agriculture Committee could come up with a new farm bill formulation and then move through the process, although most observers think this is unlikely at present, Zulauf said.

"Or the House could take up the Senate farm bill and vote on it with no amendments. If it passes, then we would have a farm bill," he said. "But it is likely the House won't pass the Senate version since the House-proposed farm bill differed from the Senate farm bill.

"So that leaves the possibility of a one-year or multi-year extension of some version of the previous farm bill. That's something we will have to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks."

The 2008 farm bill extension expires in September.

Some policy actors have said the farm provisions should be in a separate bill with the SNAP program in its own bill.

"I raise caution against separating the bill because as it stands, it makes the connection between farming and the consumption of food," Zulauf said. "Also, if you remove nutrition programs from the farm bill, will there be enough interest from legislators who don't have farming interests in their communities to get a farm bill passed? 

"Separation of the bill could lessen broad-based support to get a farm safety net passed."

 

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