On the farm bill itself, Stallman said, “you could fill a couple of binders up with scenarios about how the politics and parliamentary process will play out. I don’t have that much of a better window than anyone else…

“We want a five-year farm bill reauthorized as quickly as possible. Farmers and ranchers deserve that because we need to know what the rules are. We’re making our plans for the next crop year and it’s difficult to know how those plans would be impacted by whatever changes there are in farm policy until we have some certainty…

While differences exist between the Senate and House Agriculture Committee farm bill versions, Stallman said none were insurmountable. “The reality is those differences aren’t too much to put into a conference committee and come out with a resolution.

“The question is whether there will be political will from leadership to move in that direction and get it done. One of the big hold-ups from the House side had been what should be done with nutrition spending. Those issues will have to be resolved before we get a full five-year farm bill reauthorization.”

Stallman also brought up the need to pass permanent normal trade relations with Russia. “We supported Russia joining the WTO and coming under that rules-based trading system so they’d be restricted from playing the games they have in the past” with U.S. livestock exports. However, “we can’t access those rules until we pass permanent normal trade relations for Russia. We understand that, hopefully, that will be teed up next week in the lame duck.”

Queried specifically on Peterson’s staunch opposition to anything other than a five-year farm bill, Stallman said the AFBF “is opposed to a one-year extension if it is proposed. Our preference is a full, five-year farm bill authorized in the lame duck.

“If that isn’t possible, we’d be willing to accept some short-term extensions. By that, I mean doing what’s necessary to deal with the 1949 act and get to a point early – and I say early in the new Congress – where we could go ahead and pass a farm bill.

“I do not expect a full five-year farm bill to be passed as a stand-alone in the lame duck. I think it would be merged with something else. Once again, you could come up with all different parliamentary scenarios where that may happen.”

Admitting a bit of apprehension, Stallman said the farm bill could be wrapped up “into a lame duck piece of legislation that’s part of a grand budget deal (where) we stand the risk of losing more (funding). We hope that isn’t the case.

“We supported the types of reductions embodied in the House and Senate. Frankly, we feel we’ve already given in the pew in the collection plate, if you will. We want to hold it to that. But we’ll always be at risk because there are some large dollars in the farm bill. As people look for money to resolve budget and fiscal issues in the country, we’ll continue to be a target.”