The Senate looks to finally name its team of farm bill negotiators this week while also finishing work on a $154 billion spending bill for a bevy of departments and agencies important to agriculture, including USDA and FDA.
A USDA savings account for rural electric and telephone cooperatives that allows them to earn substantially more interest than they could from private bankers has become a major source of potential funding for a new farm bill.
The fate of the farm bill this year could hinge on whether House and Senate negotiators can find a compromise on tightening work requirements for food stamp recipients in ways that could appeal to at least some Senate Democrats.
The passage of the House and Senate farm bills over two weeks and the overwhelming, bipartisan margin of support for the Senate measure is providing new optimism that Congress can agree on a final version that President Donald Trump will sign this fall.
A bipartisan farm bill that would protect crop insurance and commodity programs as well as nutrition assistance from cuts passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin, 86-11, clearing the way for negotiations to begin next month with the House.
The House and Senate Agriculture committees faced the tough task of squeezing existing programs to find money to pay for other programs that the 2014 farm bill will leave unfunded when it expires Sept. 30.