"The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. [Public Law] 110-246, the 2008 farm bill) authorizes most federal farm and food policies. Its authorizations generally expire at the end of FY2012, or with the 2012 crop year for the farm commodity programs. People are discussing the future of agricultural policy, and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are preparing legislation for a possible 2012 farm bill. The farm bill provides the mandatory funding for many farm bill programs, including the farm commodity programs and some nutrition, conservation, research, bioenergy, and rural development programs. Funding to write the next farm bill will be based on the baseline projection of the cost of these farm bill programs by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and on varying budgetary assumptions about whether programs will continue. Some farm bill programs have baseline beyond the end of the 2008 farm bill, while others do not. Those with continuing baseline essentially have built-in future funding if policymakers decide the programs should continue in their current form. However, 37 programs that received mandatory funds during the 2008 farm bill are not assumed to continue from a budgetary perspective because they do not have a budgetary baseline beyond FY2012. If policymakers want to continue these programs in the next farm bill, they will need to pay for the programs with offsets."
CRS Report for Congress, R41433
Federation of American Scientists http://www.fas.org/