House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership, along with other Congressional leaders, struck a last-minute deal Dec. 30 to extend the Farm Bill for one year. “It is encouraging to see Congress moving toward action to address the need for a Farm Bill and, in particular, action that includes investment in rural small business and beginning farmer initiatives contained in the Farm Bill,” said Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs. According to Hassebrook, the Congressional Budget Office score of the one-year farm bill extension filed yesterday by the House majority leadership provides funding for many of the programs that received mandatory funding in the 2008 Farm Bill as well as the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed versions of the 2012 Farm Bills. “The Center for Rural Affairs applauds the inclusion of funding for beginning farmer and rancher initiatives, rural small business development and other programs that support innovation and entrepreneurship on farms, ranches and rural mainstreets,” Hassebrook said. “These investments must be included in the final language of the legislation in order for the extension to adequately fill the gap caused by the expiration of the last Farm Bill and the funding that went along with it.” “Moreover,, we remain concerned about whether the extension would allow USDA to resume sign-ups and sign contracts with farmers for the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentives Program,” Hassebrook said. “These are vital investments in conservation and in rural America’s future and should be included in the Farm Bill extension."