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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Expiration and Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill

Jim Monke
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Megan Stubbs
Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

Randy Alison Aussenberg
Analyst in Nutrition Assistance Policy

Farm bills, like many other pieces of legislation, have become more complicated and politically sensitive, and are taking longer to enact than in previous decades. Legislative delays have caused some farm bill programs to expire for short periods. The past two farm bills have needed to be extended.

Most recently, the 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) expired on September 30, 2012. Farm commodity supports were to begin reverting to an outdated and expensive “permanent law” on January 1, 2013. However, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-240) extended all 2008 farm bill provisions that were in effect on September 30, 2012, for one additional year until September 30, 2013. In the case of the farm commodity programs that are on a different calendar, the extension includes the 2013 crop year, which for certain dairy programs lasts until December 31, 2013.

There is no net cost to the extension because mandatory funding to continue most of the major farm bill programs was already in the budget baseline, such as for the farm commodity, conservation, trade, and nutrition programs. Crop insurance is permanently authorized. However, the extension forestalls the budget-reducing restructuring and reauthorization of many farm bill programs that was envisioned in both the House-reported (H.R. 6083) and Senate-passed (S. 3240) farm bills in the 112
th Congress.

A subset of the 2008 farm bill programs did not have a continuing mandatory baseline and did not receive any additional mandatory funding under the extension. This group includes certain agricultural disaster assistance programs, conservation programs, specialty crop research, organic research and certification, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, rural development, bioenergy, and farmers market promotion programs. Many of these programs would have been funded in the five-year farm bills that were developed in 2012. Most do not have any funding for FY2013 unless there is additional legislative action or appropriations.

The 113
th Congress is expected to write a new farm bill in 2013. The one-year extension preserves the budget baseline to write a new farm bill.

Date of Report: January 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R42442
Price: $29.95

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