Behind the scenes, the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees may already be working out differences between their two versions of a farm bill, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a member of the Senate committee, told reporters Tuesday.
He said he's more optimistic about the farm bill's chances than he was a week ago "because they're actually talking," Grassley said.
The farm bill could then be rolled into a larger bill to avoid some tax increases and to trim federal spending. That combination, called the fiscal cliff, has been widely covered in the media, but the farm bill hasn't, until last weekend's Sunday morning TV news shows.
Grassley said that he believes the potential 10-year savings of either $23 billion with the Senate version or $33 billion from the House, will be too attractive to leave out of any grand bargain on the fiscal cliff.
And he said he remains optimistic about the grand bargain, in spite of widespread reports of an impasse between the White House and the House of Representatives.
"I think that's all political posturing," Grassley said.