Schools have sharply increased their purchases of locally produced foods in recent years while also taking other measures to reduce food waste and encourage kids to eat more healthful products, including installing school gardens.
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.
Some Republicans say the best thing Congress could do to help farmers withstand the turmoil in trade policy is to pass a new farm bill. But economists say the legislation is unlikely to offer much relief to farmers, especially soybean growers, even if commodity prices don’t recover from their current tariff-induced slump.
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.