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Campaign Fodder in Stalled Farm Bill

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Rep. Rick Berg talks with Rep. Kristi Noem at the National Farmers Union rally to urge Congress to pass a farm bill before the end of the month. Both could be in trouble at home over Congress' inability to move the measure.

"The only way we'll know is if they actually put something on the floor instead of just talking about it," the Berg spokesman continued. "Rick thinks that our full five-year extension will pass, as this is a bipartisan bill that sailed through committee. Leadership is stalling for no good reason at the detriment of our farmers and ranchers."

Despite his preference for a full reauthorization, the spokesman added that Berg would not yet rule out voting for a short-term extension.

"If that was the only option on the table, Rick would have to discuss with farmers and [agriculture] groups back home before making a voting decision, but the fact remains the best option, and one that can pass, is the full five-year bill," the spokesman said.  

A House aide said Tuesday that the extension is not likely to come to the floor this week.

The farm bill has also become an issue in the re-election campaign of Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and could become a focus in campaigns in other farm states.

In the Indiana Senate race, where Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) faces GOP candidate Richard Mourdock, a tea party favorite, Donnelly is aggressively challenging the state treasurer for not taking on conservatives who oppose the farm bill.

"Farmers can't wait for Washington to finish playing partisan games," Donnelly says on his campaign website. "Indiana families and communities are still reeling from this year's record drought and they need the certainty of a full five-year farm bill. Unlike Richard Mourdock, who is standing with his 'My way or the highway' special interest allies, I'm proud to be standing with Republicans and Democrats alike to stand up for Hoosier farmers."

Donnelly's comments come as conservative forces have lined up against the farm bill, which they argue spends too much at a time when the deficit has topped $1 trillion for the past few years.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page on Tuesday came out in support of leaving the bill off the floor schedule this week. The conservative Club for Growth has also said signing the discharge petition would be tallied against lawmakers in the group's 2012 key vote scorecard.

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