Speakers during the farm bill panel discussion at the 2012 USA Rice Outlook Conference agreed that passage of the new farm bill may come during the lame duck session of Congress as lawmakers work to avert a series of spending cuts and tax increases in order to avoid the "fiscal cliff." USA Rice Producers Group Chairman Linda Raun, Texas A&M Ag and Food Policy Center Co-director Dr. Joe Outlaw and USA Rice Federation Vice President Government Affairs Reece Langley agreed that it is also possible that an agreement won't be reached, which may result in an one-year extension of the current farm bill.

Langley compared the provisions in both the House and Senate version of the farm bill, noting that both versions of the bill include a new crop insurance policy -- Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). Both Langley and Outlaw agreed that the more comprehensive proposal for rice producers is the House version, which includes both a revenue-based policy and a price-based policy, giving producers a choice.

"If I was a producer and I wanted to pick the best safety net, I would pick the House version of the bill," Outlaw said. "You don't do a farm bill for the good times; you do it for when things go bad."