Farm bill extension is evidence of lost clout

- A patchwork extension of federal farm programs passed as part of a larger "fiscal cliff" bill keeps the price of milk from rising but doesn

The moon rises behind the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington as Congress works into the late evening, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 to resolve the stalemate over the pending "fiscal cliff." (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A patchwork extension of federal farm programs passed as part of a larger "fiscal cliff" bill keeps the price of milk from rising but doesn't include many of the goodies that farm-state lawmakers are used to getting for their rural districts.

House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders who spent more than a year working on a half-trillion-dollar, five-year farm bill that would keep subsidies flowing had to accept a slimmed-down, nine-month extension of the 2008 law with few extras for anyone.

With the new Congress opening Thursday, they'll have to start the farm bill process over again, most likely with even less money for agriculture programs this year and the recognition that farm interests have lost some of the political clout they once held.


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