The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider its version of the farm bill next Wednesday. Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director, says the announcement appears to be a positive step forward.
“All good signs as the ranking member and Chairman Roberts met to walk through the bill. I believe the bill was shared with members of the ag committee and the initial feedback that we’re starting to hear is positive. So, this whole process in the Senate has moved forward as we expected, as we hoped, in a bipartisan fashion.”
Walmsley says the Senate could pass the bill by the end of this month.
“Leader McConnell has already mentioned that they plan to move the farm bill before July 4th recess in the Senate. So, stars appear to be aligning that we could be moving through the Senate pretty quickly when it comes to farm bill.”
Walmsley says Senate action could prompt the House to move forward with its version of the bill and bring the two together for conference and final passage.
“The Republican conference was meeting on immigration. That was one of the demands made when we saw the setback back in May with the House farm bill that a certain segment of the caucus would like to see a vote on immigration which provides an opportunity to hopefully have farm and ag labor involved in that. We support moving that process forward to get a vote, get an agreement there, so we can go ahead and move the House farm bill forward. And, with the movement in the Senate, get the two bills together in conference and back through both chambers before the end of the year.”
Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly (D) said many initiatives that he’s led or supported made it into the initial text of the bill. He said, “As the hired help, I’ve been committed to making sure Hoosiers have a voice in this farm bill. I took what I heard from Hoosiers and worked with my colleagues to develop a bipartisan bill that would: improve the tools farmers use to manage uncontrollable risks; expand market opportunities; invest in conservation practices to enhance soil health and water quality; support rural communities with investments in broadband and resources to fight the opioid epidemic; and fight food insecurity. I look forward to further bipartisan work in the Ag Committee so that we can pass this commonsense bill and give Hoosier farmers and families the certainty they deserve.”