Senate Republican Whip John Thune sees expanding work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as a way to cut the cost of the nutrition title in a new farm bill. 

“There might be a way to work something out where you could achieve some savings in the nutrition title, either with regard to work requirements or other types of provisions,” Thune, a Republican member of the Senate Ag Committee who will be working on his fifth farm bill this year, said on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. 

“But one way or the other, I think these issues are going to get voted on. I think that's appropriate.” 

In the recent debt-ceiling bill released this week, House Republican leaders proposed raising the age limit for work requirements to 55 from the current 49. A group of GOP members had proposed raising the work requirement to 65 and also have it apply to parents of children over 6.

Farm groups have repeatedly called for a more supportive farm safety net through revised reference prices. It is estimated that it would require $20 billion to increase reference prices by 10%, and about $50 billion to increase reference prices by 20%. 

Reference prices in the Price Loss Coverage program have not been updated since their authorization in the 2014 farm bill. 

“Commodity groups really want it,” Thune said. “They have a very solid case for why that needs to be done.” 

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Thune also expects there to be a discussion about tying commodity program payments to planted acres, rather than a farm's historical, "base" acreage.  

“I think one of the reasons that it hasn't happened in the past is because of some of the regional differences and how people view these issues,” Thune said. 

Laura Wood Peterson with LWP Consulting and Jeremy Peters with the National Association of Conservation Districts also joined the show to discuss climate-smart funding projects, conservation spending and USDA’s ability to implement the programs being funded. 

This week’s episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers is available at

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