Sen. Pat Roberts at an ag committee hearing. Chip Somodevilla/GettyImages
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, delivers remarks during a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Farm bill negotiators close to a deal

Updated: AFBF says the announcement is 'good news.'

It looks like farmers may get a farm bill for Christmas this year.

Senate and House Agriculture Committee Chairmen Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Members Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., announced today, Nov. 29, they’ve reached an “agreement in principle” on the 2018 Farm Bill.

“We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO scores, but we still have more work to do,” the leaders said. “We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”

Politico reported farm bill negotiators were close to a deal to resolve outstanding issues, but they’re awaiting final cost estimates before making a formal announcement.

They reached the tentative deal on Nov. 28, advancing the pact after months of stalled negotiations and after the Sept. 30 expiration of the 2014 farm bill, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The most contentious issue in the bill has been whether or not to impose stricter work requirements for recipients of food stamps, Reuters reported. Forestry provisions have emerged as a new point of contention.

Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told the Kansas City Star the deal included a compromise over proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"The 2018 farm bill emerging from the conference committee is good news for farmers amid a prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy. Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson made the bill a priority for this Congress, and all Americans—farmers and consumers—are better off for it,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall in a media statement.

“Continued access to risk management tools, assistance in foreign market development, and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the legislation are especially important for farmers and ranchers,” Duvall said. “These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face.”

“Getting a farm bill through the finish line before the end of the year is critical for the long-term viability and sustainability of family farmers and ranchers across the country,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson in a media statement. “Senate and House agriculture leaders and their staff have worked tirelessly to resolve differences in the chambers’ respective farm bills, and we’re optimistic they’ve come to terms on a farm bill that begins to provide the relief and certainty farmers need amidst struggling markets due to oversupply and trade volatility. We urge Congress to approve a farm bill before the end of the year.”

Source: Senate Agriculture Committee, AFBF, NFU

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