On December 12, the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend (H.R. 3695) the current farm bill, while a conference committee works out a compromise on a new farm bill. The extension is designed to waylay a possible expiration of the current law (the 2008 farm bill)—which would mean a reversion to 1940s-era policies. The 2008 bill is set to expire on Jan. 1. The Senate did not agree to the extension and left town for Christmas recess without acting. The conference committee will continue to work through the holidays to resolve disagreements between the House and Senate bills. As reported in July, the House left food stamps out of its bill altogether. It also included: removal the livestock title; continuation and consolidation of conservation programs; repeal and consolidation of more than 100 government programs; reform of agricultural research; and reauthorization of the livestock disaster assistance programs that expired in 2011.
While the Senate did not pass the farm bill extension, the Secretary of Agriculture has said the department will not revert to 1940s policy in early January; whatever the case, it appears the conferees may reach agreement by early January.