While the midterm election has come and gone, the 2018 Farm Bill’s future remains to be seen. There are various conflicting reports indicating that a farm bill decision could be announced as early as this week, with other reports suggesting that the changeover in Congress could push the process into 2019. While not meeting the original deadline in September, lawmakers had been making steady progress in the negotiations prior to the election.
The election has resulted in significant changes coming to the House of Representatives, as Democrats will now have the majority. The Senate experienced less turnover, with Republicans securing their majority once again. Before the new lawmakers officially take over in 2019, the current members of Congress still have a mission of funding the government past December 7 and addressing any pending appointments. With less than 20 legislative days left in the calendar year, reconciling the House and Senate versions of the farm bill seems like a tall order.
Some legislators have expressed optimism about the farm bill’s future and the potential for getting it finalized before the end of the year. “I think we’re relatively close,” Rep. Collin Peterson recently told reporters. Peterson is expected to take over for Rep. Mike Conaway as Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. “I think we can work this out and get this done before this Congress adjourns. That is my number one priority, to get that accomplished.”
Peterson noted that the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees, known as the Big Four, have been steadily working on moving forward in the negotiation process. As the group works through the development of a conference report to enable the legislation to move through both congressional chambers, Peterson has noted he will remain in Washington, D.C. until a farm bill is completed.