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Congress Faces Debate on Government Funding, Debt Limits, Farm Bill

Members of Congress will face acute budget problems when they return to Washington in September.  Having failed to pass appropriations bills to fund the government, battles are expected over adoption of a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown on October 1.  And to avoid any hint of federal default, Congress will also need to raise the debt ceiling. The prospects of any bipartisan solution on these issues are dim, and ERG expects to see a significant increase in rhetoric, with a last minute temporary fix to the funding and debt issues.

The Farm Bill has also suffered from partisan maneuvering, is in limbo, with the House only passing the portions of the bill not related to hunger and food programs.  The House and Senate also differ on funding for USDA energy programs, with the Senate mandating funding, and the House authorizing spending limits without approval of the funds.

Over a two-year period in Pennsylvania, farmers have managed 100,000 acres worth of on-farm practices that reduce polluted runoff from entering local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.  Measures such as restoring stream-side forests, special management techniques of fertilizers, and planting protective vegetation called cover crops on fields that grow crops in the summer but would otherwise be bare in the winter, take advantage of conservation programs in the Farm Bill. More…