House and Senate conferees began negotiations this week on a three-bill appropriations package that will be the vehicle for a new continuing resolution to cover federal spending into December. With federal funding set to run out November 18, appropriators from both the House and Senate said they are committed to pushing through a “minibus” containing three of the twelve fiscal year 2012 spending bills.  At the conference, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said that he would expect the conference committee to finish its work by November 14 and that the House will vote on a final bill by November 17. The minibus is made up of Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development.

The fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill contains language  that would “defund” the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from proceeding with a proposed rule mandated by the 2008 farm bill.  The appropriations language blocks the agency from publishing a final or interim final rule.

Meanwhile, USDA today sent the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the agency that clears the proposed rule and sends it back to USDA as a final rule.  Posted on the OMB website were the following two notifications: 1.  GIPSA Final Rule, Implementation of Regulations Required by the 2008 Farm Bill; Swine and Poultry Sample Contracts, Suspension of Delivery of Birds, Additional Capital Investment Criteria, Breach of Contract, and Arbitration; 2.  GIPSA Interim Final Rule, Tournament Systems and Compensation.

It is unclear at this point whether USDA will be able to get the rule back from OMB and publish it as final before the appropriators pass and President Obama signs the appropriations measure.