March 12, 2018

Farm Bill Draft To Be Released This Week

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Analysts say the House draft of the Farm Bill could make its way out of the House Agriculture Committee as early as Wednesday this week.

“While reports have surfaced about major Democratic push back on the coming draft, sources say the goal is to get a bipartisan reaction once the language is released,” says Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer’s Washington Policy Analyst. “The big differences continue to be on SNAP/food stamp language relative to a possible worker requirement for some able-bodied food stamp recipients.”

SNAP was a huge snag during the crafting of the last Farm Bill, he says adding Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is the member to watch this week.

“When the 2014 Farm Bill was initially defeated on the House floor, it was Peterson who said he felt prior promises regarding food stamp funding were reneged on and thus he led the charge to defeat the measure,” he says.

If the legislation is introduced in its current form, Wiesemeyer says committee Democrats are likely to oppose it during a markup tentatively scheduled for March 20, threatening House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway’s (R-Texas) pledge to make it a bipartisan measure.

“At this point, I think we could be on path to having a partisan farm bill,” Peterson says. “I’ve been telling [Conaway] for a long time that this is not going to fly.”

According to Wiesemeyer, Peterson thinks the SNAP proposal is simply an “exercise of futility” because a House bill with major changes to SNAP wouldn't gain enough votes to pass the Senate.