Even though Congress isn't in session this week, work on the farm bill continues, albeit on the staff level. Funding the farm bill is still the major stumbling block and several senators and congressman have been trying to come up with proposed funding allocations.
"My staff has briefed me on some of the proposals," Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, says. "Nothing that I've heard would be acceptable."
Grassley is frustrated by continued allocations that expand programs outside the House and Senate bills or cutting programs farther than either of the two bill already did.
"I plan to write to Chairman Harkin and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Conner to encourage substantive conversations about payment limitations," Grassley says. "That hasn't been dealt with in the conference adequately. Negotiations have clearly pointed to the difficulty in finding acceptable financing mechanisms that meet the demands of farm bill funding."
The push for a permanent agricultural disaster program Grassley sees as a major hurdle for reaching an agreement.
"Not in regard to the issue of disaster generally," Grassley says. "It seems to me that there is more of an acceptance by agriculture people that Senator Baucus is very, very serious about having that be a trust fund and having it be within the control of the Finance Committee. I think they are awakening to that reality."