Congress passed H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act (so-called fiscal cliff legislation), to prevent tax hikes on a majority of American taxpayers.  The bill raises income tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and for couples making more than $450,000. Included in the bill is a one-year extension of most farm programs in the current farm bill, effective until Sept. 30, 2013. The farm bill extension was the result of fiscal cliff negotiations between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden. The bill continues direct payments and the current dairy program, which were major issues.  Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was critical of extending the farm bill and not dealing with a five-year farm bill. She said, “They not only do not extend all the titles, but they do not include critical disaster assistance.” More details next week.