With the existing farm bill set to expire after Sunday and no deal reached by a joint House and Senate conference committee, it's likely the legislation will be taken up by a lame-duck session of Congress after the November midterm elections.
Yet the looming expiration has more immediate ramifications for 39 so-called orphan programs because they have authorization or funding tied to the 2014 Farm Bill. They include a government-funded trade promotion program utilized by various U.S. agricultural sectors, including some targeted with retaliatory tariffs by China and others.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who chairs the House-Senate farm bill conference committee, said in a statement Friday that the focus is "on getting a conference agreement on the farm bill as soon as possible to minimize the impact."
"Time is getting short," said Kevin Skunes, a corn and soybean grower from North Dakota and president of the National Corn Growers Association. "If the bill expires, some funding for our export program called 'Foreign Market Development' will be impacted."
Another program that doesn't have baseline funding after Sept. 30 is for organic agriculture. Also at risk are certain bioenergy and rural business development programs as well as a program to assist military veteran farmers.
In all, the affected programs had estimated mandatory spending amounting to about $2.8 billion during the five-year farm bill, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued in May.
"While this total may be a relatively small fraction of total farm bill spending (0.6 percent of the $489 billion five-year total projection), the effect may be particularly important to specific farm bill titles and to the programs' beneficiaries," the report said.
Regardless, the USDA's big-ticket programs such as crop insurance as well as nutrition programs would still continue on after the current farm bill expires Sunday.
Both chambers of Congress passed a farm bill in June but major differences between the bills have led to delays in finalizing an agreement.