Nov 29, 2018
Congress nearing a deal for Farm Bill

Congressional negotiators have reached a tenative agreement that could send the Farm Bill to the President for a signature.

The bill technically expired earlier this year, and its renewal has been hung up on policy differences over multiple issues including the federal food stamps program.

House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) and Ranking Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)  on Thursday, Nov. 29 released a joint statement on the state of 2018 Farm Bill negotiations:

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as (Congressional Budget Office) scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”

Stabenow seemed to hint at a deal in her opening statements at a Nov. 28 meeting of the Senate ag committee that was called to consider three USDA nominees.

“Now, we’re incredibly close to reaching an agreement on a final bill,” said Stabenow, who is the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. She cited a history of bipartisan work with committee chairman Roberts, including on an earlier version of the bill that passed the Senate 86-11.

Roberts didn’t allude to a deal in his remarks prepared for that meeting, but Reuters news agency reported he told reporters “we’re very close and encouraged.”

In her opening remarks Wednesday, Stabenow also gave a shout-out to Michigan State University researchers who support blueberry and cherry growers:

“Groundbreaking agricultural research happens every day at USDA and at our land-grant universities, including my alma mater Michigan State University. In fact, every dollar invested in agricultural research returns over $20 to our economy.

“Michigan State-led research has directly strengthened Michigan’s agricultural economy through studies that improved blueberry production and addressed invasive cherry tree pests – just to name a few.”

In his prepared remarks, Roberts praised the USDA nominees’ experience. Mindy Brashears, of Texas, is the nominee to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety. Naomi C. Earp, of Maryland, is the nominee to be an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights. Scott Hutchins, of Indiana, is the nominee to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.

“Each of these positions require unique qualifications and experience to best serve their individual mission areas,” said Roberts. “There is no shortage of experience on this panel of nominees, and I look forward to hearing more detail about how they would lead their respective agencies and handle these responsibilities.

“All of these positions require an unwavering dedication and commitment to serve constituents – our farmers, ranchers, consumers, businesses, and employees that are impacted on a daily basis by the decisions made at the Department of Agriculture.”

Top photo: Senate agriculture committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Chairman Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) speak at a Michigan event.  


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