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Congressional budget deal may loosen the gridlock holding up the Farm Bill

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
(file photo)

An expected congressional vote on a compromise budget bill may have a big effect on another long-stalled piece of federal legislation: the Farm Bill.

Congressional gridlock has prevented an agreement on a federal Farm Bill since 2011. The Farm Bill authorizes a wide range of programs to help farmers in Michigan and elsewhere. The main dispute has been over Republican demands for deep cuts in federal food assistance spending.

“If they are able to pass that budget resolution, within the next couple of days, that sends a very strong signal that we will have a Farm Bill sometime in the first quarter of 2014,” says Ryan Findlay, the national legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

The House is expected to vote on the budget bill Thursday.

The deal worked out by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray replaces $63 billion in what would have been automatic cuts to federal agency budgets with $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees over the coming two years. It includes no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries.

“Knowing that both chambers, House and Senate, can come together and find a compromise and start the gears of Congress moving forward again that’s important. That’s a really big step,” says Findlay.

But not necessarily a quick one.

Findlay is optimistic that Republicans and Democrats can reach a deal on a new Farm Bill early next year.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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