Progress Made on Farm Bill, Including SNAP, Ag Chairman Says

August 29, 2018 Teaganne Finn
  • House, Senate Ag leaders met for several hours
  • Senate Ag Chairman Roberts aims for draft by Sept. 5 meeting

The chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said lawmakers made progress on the farm bill’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program language – long seen as the bill’s biggest stumbling block – after leaders of the House and Senate agriculture panels met today.

Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) told reporters “some real progress was made” on the measure (H.R. 2), including the nutrition title.

“Well, obviously that’s a big issue for us and we know the paramount issue is to get a bill done,” said Roberts.

Photo – Scott Olson/Getty Images
Corn grows on a farm on July 13, 2018 near Tipton, Iowa.

The full farm bill conference committee will hold its first public meeting Sept. 5. Lawmakers will be racing the clock to get the new farm bill enacted by the Sept. 30 expiration date of the current farm law. The farm bill has 12 titles, including commodity, conservation, and nutrition programs.

Roberts’ remarks came a day after a leader in the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative and libertarian House Republicans, said it won’t back down from its demands for more work requirements for recipients of aid under SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

‘Not There Yet’

“We want what we have in the House farm bill,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, told Bloomberg Government on Monday.

The House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders met for several hours to discuss the measure and the four lawmakers are “working through things,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

A completed draft conference report to present at the first full conference meeting “is the goal,” said Roberts. But he said they still have a ways to go.

“We’re not there yet, but I hope we will be,” he said.

Stabenow was less optimistic in her assessment, saying she thought a conference report would be completed “not next week, but in a couple weeks.”

“There are big differences between the House and Senate farm bills, not just nutrition,” Stabenow said, citing specifically the commodity and conservation provisions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Teaganne Finn in Washington, D.C. at tfinn@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com; Jonathan Nicholson at jnicholson@bgov.com; John R. Kirkland at jkirkland@bgov.com

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