The future of farm policy and the writing of the 2012 Farm Bill largely hangs in the balance of on-going budget discussions in Washington. Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who was one of the architects of the 2008 Farm Bill, says that some cuts will have to be made in the new Farm Bill.
"We're waiting to see what the numbers we get out of the budget negotiations are," Peterson said. "Providing they are reasonable we expect we can make some cuts, and we need to make some cuts in the budget all the way around but we just want to be treated fair in the same proportion as everyone else. So as long as they give us a number that is in line with what everybody else is having to reduce their budget then we can do it. If they try to make us cut three times more out of the budget like they've been talking about then it will be a challenge to get a Farm Bill done."
As for the debt agreement that was passed this week, lawmakers from both parties don't seem convinced that a special bipartisan committee will be able to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in additional budget savings. The joint committee, to be made up of 12 members, is an important part of the legislation designed to cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion during the next decade and extend the debt ceiling through the 2012 election. But come the Thanksgiving deadline there's a sense the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction will not be successful in bridging the gaps that exist. Republicans have been unwilling to move on revenues and Democrats are seeking protection of entitlements.
House and Senate leaders don't have much time to make their appointments to the panel. According to Congressional Quarterly there's some consensus that it won't work to appoint members of the former Gang of Six. Names that are being floated as possibilities include Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Representative James Clyburn, D-S.C., Representative Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., Representative Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Representative Robert Andrews, D-N.J., Representative Diane Black, R-Tenn., and Representative Allen West, R-Fla. House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said he would serve if Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wants him to.