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.
USDA officials are scrambling to put together a presentation on an assistance program to help mitigate the tens of billions of dollars in damage that’s expected to be done to farmers and ranchers as a result of the Trump administration’s multifront trade war with China, Mexico, Canada, the European Union and elsewhere.
The House took a step Wednesday toward beginning formal negotiations with the Senate over a new farm bill and overwhelmingly voted in favor of including permanent funding for USDA efforts to combat animal diseases.
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.