Committees in the House and Senate approved versions of the Farm Bill May 14 and 15, respectively.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry took about three hours to approve its $955 billion 2013 Farm Bill with a 15-5 vote. The House Committee on Agriculture spent 13 hours on its $940 billion version, approving it 36-10. Both are similar to bills put forward in 2012.
"The bills include the marketing loan provision for wool and the extension of the disaster programs that are very important to U.S. sheep producers," said Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association. "The committees included in their reports the majority of the legislative issues that the industry requested."
Programs of importance to the sheep industry include an extension to the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Program, funding for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and the marketing loan provision for wool.
The full Senate is expected to take up the bill next week while the House anticipates going to the floor with its version of the Farm Bill in June. That sets a timeline up for it to go to a conference committee in late July or August with final approval possible in September.
Current extensions to funding under the 2008 Farm Bill expire Sept. 30. If Congress hasn't approved a new version by then, another extension would be necessary.