A National Journal report revealed a potential path forward for a U.S. House of Representatives' bill that would extend the 2008 farm law and propose disaster relief for weather-related livestock and fruit and vegetable damages. A House vote on the measure could come as early as Aug. 1. If approved by the House and if acceptable to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the House plan could lead to farm bill conference negotiations between House and Senate committee staff commencing possibly as early as the August 2012 congressional recess.

(For more, see: Farm bill moves toward one-year extension)

"If you're going to provide certainty out in the drought areas if you're going to enable an orderly transition from the completion of the regular farm bill, then a one-year makes sense," the article quoted House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) as saying. Lucas indicated that the House leadership was on board for the vote.

The Journal said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) received a call from Stabenow, asking him to pass an extension and saying that she would then call for a conference. 

"If the House intends to send us a bill that will be used to negotiate the farm bill during August, I am open to that approach," Stabenow told the Journal.

"However, a short-term extension is bad for farmers and our agricultural economy. If Congress does what Congress always does and kicks the can down the road with a short-term extension, there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, we'll lose the opportunity for major deficit reduction, and we'll deliver a real blow to our economic recovery."

Peterson told the Journal, "If we can pass an extension and use it to get to conference, that might be something I could support." Until now, Peterson was against a short-term extension, the article reported. "It's pretty clear Republicans can't get enough votes without me," he said.

The USA Rice Federation continues to closely track farm-bill and related developments to determine what provisions actually might emerge in any House bill next week, as well what could develop should farm bill conference negotiations begin.