The fight for congressional attention is quickly turning into a fight between the looming fiscal cliff and the farm bill as Congress heads into its post-election, year-ending session. However, with no major changes made to the presidency, Senate or the House, there’s little chance that this lame duck session will be anything but lame.

That’s what Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), told AgriTalk’s Mike Adams in an interview on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of high-priority items (other than the farm bill) that have to be done," she said. "It's going to be a very uphill push to get this farm bill done in the lame duck session."

The fiscal cliff notwithstanding, urgent issues remain for farmers. 

“You look at something like the Milk Income Loss Contract program that has ended as of Sept. 30. We have to do something for dairy farmers,” Thatcher said.

“We can’t leave our livestock producers, given the high prices they are paying for feed and the problems they had with the drought. Those kinds of things are going to have to be done,” she added.

To address the biggest issue facing Americans – the fiscal cliff - Thatcher doesn’t sense that either side is willing to budge. If Congress does not take action on avoiding this fiscal cliff, taxes on essentially everything will go up on Jan. 1 and automatic spending cuts will kick in. Many economists think this could cause the economy to slip into a recession next year.

“I think you can easily see these taxes not getting done before Christmas,” Thatcher said.  

To listen to more of Thatcher’s interview with AgriTalk, click on the audio bar at the top of this article.

Matt Erickson, an economist with AFBF, noted earlier during an interview with Newsline that rural Americans would be most affected by this fiscal cliff if Congress can’t work out a solution to the predicament. Read, “Rural America the biggest loser as fiscal cliff looms.”

In late-October, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., caused a stir after indicating that a stand-alone farm bill would come to the House floor following the election. The Hill reports that farm lobbyists have pointed that the last – and best – hope for passing the 2012 farm bill would be for it to ride on fiscal cliff legislation. Click here to read more.