Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts forcefully rejected proposed farm bill reforms that would make the Agriculture Risk Coverage program more attractive and increase payments to farmers in the upper Midwest at the expense of producers in other regions.
Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee are working to finalize key details of their draft farm bill, including changes to the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, with hopes of bringing the legislation out of committee sometime in June.
With a farm bill floor debate looming next week, House members have filed more than half a dozen amendments attacking various aspects of the crop insurance program and others seeking to tighten rules for commodity subsidies and to roll back the sugar program.
House Republicans are relying on elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program and tightened eligibility rules and work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to fund other priorities in the new farm bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway kicked off a battle over the next farm bill by releasing draft legislation that offers producers improvements to major commodity programs at minimal cost, while overhauling conservation policy and making sweeping reforms to nutrition assistance.
A sweeping budget agreement that will provide new assistance to cotton and dairy producers and expand disaster aid to many other farmers and ranchers received final congressional approval in the House Friday morning.
Prospects this week for passing farm bill fixes sought by cotton and dairy producers dimmed as House Republicans wrangled over a disaster aid bill, and a top Senate Democrat raised objections to the agriculture measures.