Even bipartisan bills can die ugly deaths in election years.

So the reality that the chances for a food safety bill reaching President Obama’s desk this year look increasingly glum shouldn’t shock us.

This is not the view of some trade journalist safely ensconced  in flyover Big 12 country. No, the sobering take of the industry’s premier produce lobbyist.

“We are at a standstill right now and I would argue that if we don’t get this done in the next few weeks, the likelihood of a food safety bill moving through Congress this year diminishes significantly,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association. “I’m being pretty pessimistic, but that’s how I feel.”

Guenther told me June 10 said the sticking points on the Senate food bill include language on traceability and an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to curtail use of the BPA compound in food packaging. Beyond the obstacles in clearing the Senate, Guenther said te House-Senate conference process to produce a unified bill will be contentious. How to pay for the bill, traceability, regulation of imports and even mandatory recall authority loom as tough issues to find quick agreement.

As to traceability, Guenther said the discussion revolves around how far back traceability should extend, and who should  be accountable for traceability and who should not.

Guenther said it is unclear how small farmer exemptions will be worked out in the manager’s amendment.

“Clearly we have give our opposition to (absolute exemptions) and  we believe if you are selling into the comerical market place you ought to have some basic food safety rules in place,” he said.

Al in all, Guenther said he is the most pessimistic he has ever been about the food safety legislation.

My view: even for a do-nothing and disorderly Congress, I wrongly assumed industry-supported food safety reform was one issue that couldn’t be screwed up.

Election year politics have taken the fun out of dysfunctional and put the “bye” in bipartisanship.