Democrats are panning Senate Republicans’ farm bill proposal for its treatment of nutrition and conservation funding, but some farm groups say the release of the GOP plan is a sign of progress.

The GOP framework released Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture Committee’s ranking member, John Boozman of Arkansas, calls for an average 15% increase in Price Loss Coverage reference prices and would provide a voluntary base update.

The bill also crosses some red lines for Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., by removing climate guardrails on Inflation Reduction Act conservation funds and by restricting future updates of the Thrifty Food Plan, the model of food costs used to set SNAP benefits.

The GOP plan, “combined with Senator Stabenow’s previously released outline, brings into better focus each party’s vision for this important legislation,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement.

“This is encouraging progress in the Senate, but there is much work to be done. There are stark differences between the two outlines and we urge Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman to find common ground on the important issues that farmers and ranchers face.”

In a statement, Stabenow said release of Boozman’s plan was a “welcome development” and that it was now time “to build upon the areas where we share common ground, of which there are many, and do the hard work of reaching a bipartisan compromise so we can finish our work.“

But she said the GOP plan “follows the same flawed approach as Chairman Thompson’s proposal in the House and splits the broad farm bill coalition. It makes significant cuts to the family safety net that millions of Americans rely on and walks away from the progress we have made to address the climate crisis. Similar to the House, the framework also appears to propose spending far in excess of available funding.”

Rep. David Scott of Georgia, top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said Boozman “has chosen to ignore Democratic warnings by putting forth policies, particularly on nutrition, that Democrats cannot and will not accept.

“The worst-kept secret in the agriculture community is that a farm bill with the Republican proposal on the Thrifty Food Plan will never become law. Who will acknowledge this reality first, House or Senate Republicans? Or will they continue to place their ideological obsession with making massive cuts to SNAP over the real need of our farmers to enact a farm bill this year?”

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Boozman told reporters that it was time to “get serious” about negotiating a new farm bill or else start working on another extension of the 2018 farm bill. There is little time left to negotiate a new bill since the House and Senate calendars have only a few weeks before November's election.

Farm groups were generally cautious in statements in response to the Boozman plan.

Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said Boozman’s proposal would make “significant investments” in the farm safety net.

“Having the Senate committee taking up a farm bill is the next logical step in the process of passing a farm bill this year,” he said. “With both the majority and minority leaders of the committee having now released frameworks, we hope that they will come together soon to work on a farm bill that can gain strong bipartisan support.”

Todd Van Hoose, president and CEO of the Farm Credit Council, said both Stabenow and Boozman had issued “proposals to support rural communities and agriculture, and we hope this momentum continues.”

Daren Coppock, president and CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association, said the release of the Senate GOP plan represented "positive momentum."

Keeff Felty, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, called the release of Boozman’s plan a “step in the right direction.”

USA Rice said Boozman's plan "upholds his commitment to put 'more farm in the farm bill.'" 

House Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., said Senate Republicans put forward “a slate of thoughtful proposals that must be addressed in the next farm bill. Their framework elevates the urgent needs voiced by diverse stakeholders across the country, and articulates common-sense solutions in response, an approach” that his own committee had advanced.