Farm Bill lacks clear path forward
Although U.S. Senate leadership is ready to begin conference on the Farm Bill, the House of Representatives has not yet acted upon the Senate's conference request. As reported by Cornerstone Government Affairs, rumors indicate that House action will be delayed until an acceptable end-game process can be determined.
Complicating this process is the controversy surrounding the nutrition title. On July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a divied Farm Bill, H.R. 2642, which includes only the agriculture provisions, and excludes food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). This bill now has to be reconciled with the one passed by the Senate earlier this year, which does include food stamps.
Although no formal conference has begun, informal conference meetings are reportedly being held. Staffs of the "four principals" on the Senate and House agricultural have begun meetings to reconcile the two bills. These individuals include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). There’s speculation on another short-term extension of current farm policy. The previous Farm Bill has already been extended once, and is now due to expire Sept. 30. Without further action, the agriculture industry will be left without farm policy as of that date. The OAN will continue to monitor the issue in the hopes a bill can be resurrected.
“We hope that both parties put politics aside and do what Congress needs to do — pass the Farm Bill,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said.