Farm Bill Conference Progress
This week, we expect the four farm bill conference principals to take significant steps in bringing an agreed upon bill to the House and Senate floors this month. The conference committee is likely to meet for two to three days to negotiate the remaining issues of a nearly completed bill drafted by the principals and their staff over the December recess. Before adjourning for the holiday break, the principals said that they had made considerable progress on a five-year bill, including receiving workable Congressional Budget Office scores and coming close to reaching agreements on farm subsidies and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding.
Both the Senate and House leadership have signaled that floor consideration of the farm bill is a priority on their legislative agendas for January. In December, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to bring to the floor a farm bill extension to create pressure to complete work on the farm bill as soon as possible. Sen. Reid had assurances from the Department of Agriculture that it could stave off the effects of the 1949 Act until early February. In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released his 2014 legislative agenda on Friday, which included the budget and the farm bill as the top two priorities. Once brought to the floor, the House will likely schedule up and down votes for key provisions such as SNAP and farm subsidies. Other amendments may receive separate votes.