Agriculture Secretary urges "reform-minded" farm bill
Some farm groups say Congress will extend the 2008 farm law, which expired on Oct 1, for as long as a year as a stop-gap.
It will be "incredibly difficult" to wrap up a bill in three or four weeks, said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He called for attention to issues such as disaster aid, that should not be overlooked in an extension.
Mary Kay Thatcher of the 6-million-member American Farm Bureau Federation, said that a one-year extension of the current bill was most likely, with a six-month extension possible too.
Mississippi Sen Thad Cochran could replace Pat Roberts of Kansas as the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which could affect work on the farm bill if it is delayed into 2013.
Roberts took a lead on the Senate farm bill which would eliminate traditional crop subsidies. But southern Senators including Georgia's Saxby Chambliss said the plan was unfair to rice and peanut growers.
Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, is expected to return as the Senate Agriculture chairwoman. Frank Lucas, Oklahoma Republican, was expected to serve a second term as House Agriculture chairman.
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