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Farm Bill Conference Committee Meets

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The farm bill conference committee’s first public meeting Wednesday came with just ten legislative days to complete and pass a new farm bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts chairs the committee, working on now his eighth farm bill as a lawmaker. In his opening statement, Roberts told the committee, “Time is of the essence. Let us work together to get this done.” The farm bill conference committee is composed of 56 members, including nine Senators and 47 Representatives. The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson told the members, “Nobody in this room is going to get everything he or she wants; this process is about compromise.”

The biggest compromise is needed in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, where the House version of the bill includes work requirements. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, pointed out that the House SNAP provision would cut two million recipients from the program, adding that “these cuts do not have support in the Senate – and do not even have strong consensus in the House.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway has offered up what he calls a “significant compromise” on nutrition programs in the farm bill. Conaway declined to get into specifics with Politico but says last week he sent a proposal to his counterparts in the Senate offering a compromise on SNAP. He says the offer demonstrates he’s “willing to move off House positions, but it’s got to make sense.”

Source: NAFB News Service