NASHVILLE - Now that the election is over, the lame-duck session of Congress has a very small window of opportunity to deal with a long to-do list.
Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, says everything from conservation programs to help for beginning farmers and rural development hangs in the balance if federal lawmakers can't agree on a Farm Bill.
"If it doesn't get done between now and the end of the year, then they essentially have to start over - because come January, they have a new Congress. They have new senators, new representatives."
There are more than 80,000 farms across Tennessee covering more than 11.4 million acres. According to Hassebrook, there are growing investments in wind farms in the state that would benefit from an extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit.
"At the end of the day, for the representatives of this part of the country, I think it's important they stand up and fight for that tax credit, because it's been a real factor in helping bring new opportunities and jobs and revenue to our rural communities."
If the Farm Bill is pushed into 2013, Hassebrook says it could contain greater spending cuts than it currently does. The version passed by the Senate last spring would trim Farm Bill spending by $23.6 billion over 10 years; the bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee includes a $35 billion trim.