When House and Senate negotiators sit down in coming days to start writing the final version of a new farm bill, they will find that many of their sharpest differences will be over how far they should reshape and fund conservation programs.
Republicans expect to advance a farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday despite Democratic anger over its reforms to food stamps, but the legislation also would make significant changes in policy and funding across many other sections, including conservation, rural development and horticulture.
House Republicans prepare to force their new farm bill through the Agriculture Committee this week in what is likely to be a bitter but potentially brief debate, setting up a likely showdown on the House floor in May.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway kicked off a battle over the next farm bill by releasing draft legislation that offers producers improvements to major commodity programs at minimal cost, while overhauling conservation policy and making sweeping reforms to nutrition assistance.
A new bipartisan Senate proposal to reform USDA’s three largest conservation programs departs sharply from what is expected to be in the House farm bill while putting an emphasis on protecting water quality.