With only a few weeks left in the session, Sen. Thad Cochran returned to Washington a week early, to join other key lawmakers in crafting legislation to renew farm programs.
Cochran, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, is among lawmakers leading talks on the next five-year farm bill. The lawmakers met early Wednesday for about an hour and had tentative plans to meet again later in the day.
“We are making progress on the farm bill negotiations, but cannot predict when we will finish and get approval,” Cochran said after the morning session. “We will do our utmost to get a good bill that will be helpful to producers and farmers and at the same time serve the interests of consumers and all others who have important interests at stake as well.”
Congress is running out of time to finish the farm bill. The House is scheduled to leave Washington for the year at the end of next week, and the Senate plans to depart around Dec. 19. If a new bill or extension is not passed by Jan. 1, farm programs revert to 1949 legislation that requires increases in subsidy prices, starting with dairy payments.
Farmers are anxiously waiting for action from Congress.