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Fiscal Cliff Deal Includes One Year of Farm Bill.

The fiscal cliff package approved by Congress includes a one-year extension of most agricultural policies that were in effect under the 2008 farm bill.

However, there are some exceptions.

The agreement reauthorizes direct payments for 2013 crops, a provision that Politico calls “a victory for Southern agricultural interests”.   However, the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE) was not renewed.  

The package does not include the Dairy Security Act’s market-based reform provisions backed by the National Milk Producers Federation. Instead, it simply extends the existing dairy product price support system and the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) Program.

While acknowledging an extension of the farm bill was necessary, many in agriculture are also critical of the process. 

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson called it “a short sighted, temporary fix that ultimately provides inadequate solutions that will leave our farmers and ranchers crippled by uncertainty.

“The legislation that passed fails to provide disaster aid for farmers or necessary support for our dairy industry, yet continues unjustifiable direct payments,” Johnson said.  “The bill also does not provide mandatory funding for the energy title, specialty crops and organic provisions, and new important programs for beginning farmers and ranchers.”

National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson was also critical.

“America’s farmers have clearly made known the importance and need of a new farm bill in 2012,” Johnson says. “Once again Congress’ failure to act pushes agriculture aside hampering farmers’ ability to make sound business decisions for the next five years.  The National Corn Growers Association is tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability.  The system is clearly broken.

 “We hope the 113th Congress proves to be more fruitful and that the leaders in Congress can place petty partisanship aside to create a bill that benefits all of America.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow was also upset with the process.  She said the provisions amounted to Senate Minority Leader “Mitch McConnell’s farm bill,” and added that while she voted for the overall agreement, she is “not happy with what was done to agriculture.”

The deal extends the 2008 farm bill, which officially expired at the end of September, through September 2013.  The agriculture committees have until then to draft legislation to replace it.