What’s that sound? It’s the clock ticking as the timeline for this year’s farm bill process begins to run out. The current bill expires Sept. 30, and we now have less than two weeks before Congress’ month-long recess begins on August 3.

So what’s the holdup? Now that both the Senate and House Agriculture committees have passed their versions of the bill, you’d think they’d get to work hashing it out, right? Wrong. Instead the Republican-controlled House is stalling.As Politico reports:

Never before in modern times has a farm bill reported from the House Agriculture Committee been so blocked. POLITICO looked back at 50 years of farm bills and found nothing like this. There have been long debates, often torturous negotiations … but no House farm bill, once out of committee, has been kept off the floor while its deadline passes.

As we’ve been reporting, neither farm bill reflects the goals of sustainable food advocates (in fact most in the good food movement think the bills stink and haven’t been afraid to say so). Both would continue to heavily subsidize industrial-scale commodity farming, cut funding to conservation, and short-shrift poor folks, just to varying degrees (the House draft is currently much worse on the latter). But the chaos that could descend if a bill does not get passed at all this year may be even worse than the House bill.

According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), it’s looking very likely that Congress won’t address the bill until it returns in September. By that point, “action on a short-term extension will likely take all of the short number of legislative days available in September, and may spill over into early October.” If they can pull an extension to the current, i.e. 2008, Farm Bill together, NSAC adds, “the working assumption is that then the leadership of the two committees will attempt to work out a final version of the farm bill in closed-door negotiations.” If they can come to a consensus (an image that’s become awfully difficult to conjure these days), “they would then attempt to attach the melded product onto one of several ‘must pass’ bills during the lame duck session of Congress in November and December.”