House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has been a strong opponent of an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill. However he says Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the Ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee has convinced him to change his stance on the issue. Peterson will seek and extension of the current farm bill until March 15.
"This provision will protect the budget we have for the Farm Bill that Congress is currently writing," says Peterson. "This interim step to continue programs through mid-March will ensure that we have the time and resources we need to get the job done."
Senate Ag Committee spokeswoman Kate Cyrul says Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has also decided to support the extension.
"Chairman Harkin agreed to the short-term extension of the current farm bill to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks while we work on a new bill in Congress," Cyrul says. "This need became more evident when economists realized we could lose billions from our baseline if anything were to lapse."
However; the extension will not include 2002 commodity support programs for the 2008 crop year.
Although the Senate is expected to finish the farm bill next week, Peterson says reconciling differences in the two chamber's bills will take a conference committee awhile. However he says he plans to try to push for a conference bill by the end of January.