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October 18, 2013

Farm Bill Negotiations Move Forward


Leaders of the House of Representatives have named 29 Representatives to the conference committee that will work to consolidate the House and Senate versions of the next five-year Farm Bill into a final piece of legislation that will be passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

While House and Senate leaders assert their commitment to settling on and passing a final version of the next Farm Bill, getting to agreement will likely be difficult. One of the most contentious disagreements remains over how much to cut from nutrition programs, which have traditionally been funded by the Farm Bill.

As we have reported, earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the next five-year Farm Bill, including funding for farm, nutrition, and energy programs. Importantly, the Senate bill continues and provides mandatory funding for existing Farm Bill energy programs and extends eligibility to renewable chemicals. It includes $4 billion in cuts to nutrition programs. After failing to pass a combined bill, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a "farm-only" bill this summer and a "nutrition-only" bill cutting $40 billion in food stamps in recent weeks. The House farm-only Farm Bill contains an energy title without mandatory funding that will instead be subject to annual appropriations, and it does not extend the energy programs to renewable chemicals.

The nine month extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30.