Farm Bill Conferees Reach Tentative Agreement
Congressional conferees last Friday reached a tentative agreement on a spending framework for the new Farm Bill and announced their intentions to have a final bill completed by early May. Noting the progress, President George Bush agreed to extend the current Farm Bill until May 2, when another short-term extension is expected to bring the bill to completion.
"This agreement increases the chance that Congress will pass a new Farm Bill this year," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs. "However, it's still unclear whether the changes being considered will be acceptable to the administration, which has an outstanding threat to veto the bill if it doesn't include sufficient reforms."
In addition, many policy issues, including the dairy provisions, have yet to be resolved. IDFA expects dairy-related issues to be discussed and finalized this week.
The new framework tacks on an $861 million increase for nutrition programs over 10 years, although the details have not been announced. By reducing crop subsidies and other producer funding to offset the spending shift, conferees have agreed to allocate two-thirds of Farm Bill resources to nutrition.
"It's not just a Farm Bill," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA). "This is a farm and a food and an energy bill."
The framework is scheduled to be presented to the conference committee this evening or Tuesday morning. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) expects the framework to be accepted by the conference committee without debate and predicts a final bill may be ready as early as May 6.
For more information, contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3553.
# # #
Posted April 28, 2008