No farm bill action scheduled for next week

The outlook for the 2012 farm bill darkened considerably on Friday after GOP leaders decided not to schedule it for floor action next week.

That leaves only four legislative days to consider the massive $957 billion bill before the August recess. Current farm programs expire on Sept. 30.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) blasted the decision on Friday.

“There is no excuse not to bring the farm bill to the floor. We’ve wasted the last two weeks on political messaging bills that are going nowhere," he said. "If the House Republican Leadership were serious about creating jobs and growing our economy they would bring up this bill. There is no good reason to put one of our nation’s economic bright spots, the rural economy, at risk."

The House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill by a bipartisan 35-11 vote earlier this month, and the Senate has also passed its bill.

For House leaders, the bill is a major headache. Conservatives, backed by groups like Heritage Action, say farm subsidies distort the free market and should be cut back more than in the House bill. Liberals are outraged at the $16.5 billion cut to the food stamp program.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has voted against the last two five-year farm bills, while Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) voted to sustain President George W. Bush's veto of the 2008 bill, which was ultimately overridden by Congress.