The Congress could delay passage of a new five-year farm bill until spring planting given the full plate of legislation needed after the election to avoid a fiscal cliff with its mandatory U.S. budget cuts, a top farm policy expert said on Monday.

“My prediction is that we will get a farm bill by April 2013. It will look very close to the Senate version,” Barry Flinchbaugh, a Kansas State University agricultural economist who advises legislators on shaping U.S. farm bills, told an agricultural bankers meeting.

The farm bill is the master legislation that directs government supports and food aid programs.

Squabbling over political issues, the divided Congress adjourned in September without passing a new bill before the old one expired on October 1. That fed more anger in U.S. farm country – which is still reeling from the worst drought in half a century – against partisans in Congress.