Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Monday 01/06/14

Farm Bill Conference Meeting Possibe

Thursday has been circled on the calendar since the House of Representatives left down Dec. 13. With the House returning to session on Tuesday, it's expected --- well, it's possible anyway --- that the farm-bill conference leaders could call a Thursday meeting for the full group of conferees.

We'll see.

After all, conferees left before Christmas vowing to get a farm bill done in January. If that's the case, then the principal negotiators from the House and Senate agriculture committees should get those calls out for a meeting quickly because the House calendar will once again be working against them. The House is in session four days this week and four days next week. Congressmen are out the week of Jan. 20. They return Jan. 27-29 before GOP members hold a planning retreat at the end of the month. That translates into seven days of floor time for the House in January after this Friday.

The Senate also is out the week of Jan. 20.

Some kind of public meeting will be needed to resolve those prickly issues that are more emotional or parochial than financial. Also, more than 40 lawmakers are going to want more say in the process than reading an opening statement in that kumbaya initial conference meeting held way back on Oct. 30.

Congress can move quickly once conference reports are done. In 2008, House and Senate farm bill conferees announced a final bill on May 8. The House voted on the bill May 14 and the Senate voted on the legislation May 15. Within a week, both chambers overrode a veto by President George W. Bush.

Jerry Hagstrom, DTN's political correspondent, wrote a column this week for National Journal, stating that pressure is on Republicans to pass a farm bill because of political survival. In at least a few key Senate races, Democrats are pointing to GOP votes against the farm bill as a suggestion that those votes and the lack of a farm bill are hurting farmers. Hagstrom noted that strategy helped Democrats in some farm-state races in 2012. http://dld.bz/…

There still has to be serious doubts over whether House Republicans are going to accept cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at $8 billion over 10 years. Republicans stalled the farm-bill last summer because $19 billion in SNAP cuts wasn't high enough.

Given the short schedule and the political need to pass a bill, chances are good we get a conference meeting before the end of the week. If that doesn't happen, well then someone apparently found a way to hit the pause button again.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.

Posted at 8:04PM CST 01/06/14 by Chris Clayton
Comments (3)
Dear W Kester, Not sure if you know it but when people see things like you post, they know it is from a pedantic blowhard and just scroll down past you rant. Does ANYONE read all, or any, of Kesters posts? Which reminds me, Jay, still out there? And where?
Posted by CRAIG MOORE at 8:52AM CST 01/07/14
By the wording of Mr W., you know he is not a farmer and this is a statement written by the ewg or heritage which no one really cares about anyway.
Posted by Cypt Frms at 3:07PM CST 01/07/14
Fortunately for smaller farmers payment limitations are still an unresolved issue. See http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/agriculture/194858-dairy-fight-could-hold-up-farm-bill-conference
Posted by W Kuster at 6:57PM CST 01/08/14
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