The 2014 farm bill is set to expire in just over one week, raising concerns about disruptions in a number of programs, including one of the largest conservation programs as well as much smaller programs that help commodity groups open overseas markets.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed farm bill negotiators to finalize an agreement as quickly as possible, but House Republicans used the conference committee’s first formal meeting to continue to press senators to accept tighter work requirements for food stamp recipients.
Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts plans to call the first formal meeting of the farm bill conference committee shortly after the Labor Day recess and hopes to make headway by then in settling differences with the House negotiators.
The Senate's nine farm bill negotiators include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants the legislation finalized next month, as well as a Democrat facing a tough re-election race this fall, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
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.
Jim Hubbard is a step closer to a possible job as USDA undersecretary for natural resources and the environment after being grilled yesterday by members of the Senate Agriculture Committee about his nomination.