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 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.
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.