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.
USDA could soon have a new chief scientist. President Trump says he plans to nominate Scott Hutchins, the global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriscience, as the department’s undersecretary for research, education and economics.
The passage of the House and Senate farm bills over two weeks and the overwhelming, bipartisan margin of support for the Senate measure is providing new optimism that Congress can agree on a final version that President Donald Trump will sign this fall.
Agriculture, food, forestry and renewable energy political action committee donations in the 2018 election cycle remains skewed heavily in favor of the Republican Party, but in the Senate, two incumbent Democrats are reaping the most contributions.
For the second time in five years, House Republicans failed to pass a farm bill, this time because of conservative demands for action on immigration and fierce Democratic opposition to the legislation's food stamp reforms.
By a surprisingly large bipartisan margin, the House easily defeated the latest attempt by food and candy manufacturers to reduce sugar prices, rejecting an amendment that would have ended domestic marketing controls for the commodity.
The stage is set for a bitter debate over a new farm bill as soon as next week in the House, but the deep partisan divisions could work in favor of farm groups as they try to stave off cuts to commodity programs or crop insurance.