Monday, June 04, 2018

It's a full-blown partisan farm food fight

...In late May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution including this last line: Action on the farm bill "may continue to be postponed through the legislative day of Friday, June 22." To some, that means a new vote on H.R. 2; to others, it's an escape clause. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and GOP leadership may make a second attempt to pass its original version, pending enough votes to override Democratic opposition. On the Senate side, Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan., expected a bipartisan bill to go to the Senate floor as soon as June 12 — one that won't attempt welfare reform. Then there's a third factor: President Donald Trump has vowed to veto any farm bill that doesn't include stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The House version would double SNAP benefits when buying fruits and vegetables, but could reduce stipends or eliminate them to 2-million Americans below the poverty line. That's where the standoff currently stands. Roberts, speaking at a farm bill public forum along with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, in Manhattan, Kan., said he personally has no problem with the House bill, which includes stricter rules requiring "able-bodied" SNAP recipients to either work 20 hours a week or be engaged in training for work. He hopes the House gets to work and passes it, "and we can get down to the hard work of hashing out a final bill to go to the president for his signature before Sept. 30." However, Roberts stressed, the Senate needs 60 votes to pass a bill and changing the rules for SNAP in the interest of welfare reform won't pass... The House version rolls the Conservation Stewardship Program into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, according to Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for American Farm Bureau Federation. Caps or limits based on farm size and ownership were defeated on the floor or in the House Rules Committee, he added. He presumed they wouldn't be back when the bill returns to the floor. As previously reported, key bipartisan Senate leaders adamantly oppose letting CSP expire. Among 13 points outlined in previous reporting is a proposed increase in CSP incentives for cover crops and intensive rotational grazing...MORE

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