Progressive groups pushing for reforms to farm policy and opposed to nutrition assistance cuts and environmental provisions in the House-passed farm bill say Congress would be better passing no new legislation at all unless it’s similar to the bipartisan Senate version.
The four lead farm bill negotiators, meeting for the first time since some bickering erupted over the expiration of the 2014 law, declared that they are working together to reach an agreement by the end of the year.
The strained farm bill negotiations have erupted in partisan bickering amid darkening prospects for reaching an agreement by the end of the year to replace the 2014 law, which expires Sunday, Sept. 30.
The four lead farm bill negotiators failed to reach a deal in time to avert Sunday’s expiration of the 2014 law, but they emerged from a one-hour meeting Wednesday to say they are committed to finalizing an agreement that Congress can consider following the mid-term elections.
With the new farm bill likely stalled until after the November mid-term elections, one of the biggest disputes still to be ironed out is a provision in the House farm bill that would end commodity program payments for acreage on which farmers haven’t been growing program crops.
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.