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House GOP Takes Temperature for Three-Month Farm Bill Extension

House Republican leaders are whipping a three-month extension of the stalled House farm bill, a measure that would drop the bill into the middle of what will already be a contentious lame-duck session.

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said today he is seeking support from his colleagues for the short-term measure and pushing for a House vote next week.

“I think anyone who looks at the circumstances is going to acknowledge that you can’t do a complete farm bill by next Friday, therefore we’re going to do a farm bill in [the] lame duck,” he said.

With the elections approaching, he said politics prevent passage of a full bill. Still, leadership has yet to decide whether to bring the measure up next week, and Lucas said that neither Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) nor Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have committed to a vote on any farm bill.

As Lucas whipped the measure at a House vote today, however, Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) let off a tirade near the House floor, saying that he is strongly opposed to any short-term extension of the farm bill.

“If anybody would take the time to learn what the hell is really going on here, people would understand. Ninety-eight percent of people in this town have no goddamn idea what’s going on and they’re spouting all this nonsense,” he said. “I’m tired of it.”

Peterson noted that although the farm bill expires Sept. 30, the negative effects, a sharp spike in dairy prices, for instance, would not take effect until January. An extension would make it more difficult to pass a five-year farm bill, he said.

“This is strictly political cover is all this is, to make it look like they’re doing something,” he said. “What upsets me is he’s whipping something that is really irrelevant. And they never whipped the farm bill. They just said, ‘Well, we don’t have the votes.’ Why the hell didn’t they whip it? If they have time to whip this, what the hell? Why aren’t they whipping the bill?”

Still, the measure would have some Republican support. Rep. Reid Ribble, a freshman Republican who sits on the Agriculture Committee, said he is pushing for a one-year extension but is eager to pass something to give certainty to dairy farmers in his home state of Wisconsin.

“The reality is they weren’t going to get it through the House in time to get a conference report anyway, which meant it was going to be in the lame duck no matter what,” Ribble said. “I think you’re going to have to do something.”

The extension is likely to meet the same headwinds that have kept any farm bill from the House floor this year. Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said he is still opposed to any farm bill because it does not include enough changes to farm programs.

“I’m against it, and I don’t particularly care for the three-month because, remember, our goal was to keep things out of he lame duck,” the Ohio lawmaker said.

Peterson said that agriculture industry groups would probably also oppose a short-term extension, as they have been pushing lawmakers to pass the five-year bill.

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