New Agriculture Law to Be Considered in Lame-Duck, Cantor Says

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised to bring stalled agriculture-policy legislation to the House floor during Congress’s lame-duck session after the Nov. 6 election. The last farm bill expired Sept. 30.

“I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes” to approve a bill, the Virginia Republican told reporters yesterday while campaigning for Representative Raul Labrador in Boise, Idaho, according to the Idaho Statesman newspaper. Cantor provided no other details, spokesman Douglas Heye said today in an e-mail.

The Senate in June approved a five-year plan to fund U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition programs including food stamps and subsidies to farmers that lower raw-materials costs for companies including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd. While the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the law in June, the full House has yet to consider the proposal. Both plans would cost roughly $100 billion annually.

Because of the expiration of the previous farm bill, agriculture policy is technically being guided by legislation passed in 1949, which requires massive government price-setting and acreage limitations on crops including wheat and corn. Such programs wouldn’t come into effect until 2013, buying time for Congress to act while creating pressure for a new law to be passed.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, interpreted Cantor’s remarks as a commitment to a floor vote. “It is critical that we are able to finalize the farm bill before the beginning of next year, when farm programs begin to expire,” she said in an e-mail.

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