House and Senate conferees have made progress in farm-bill negotiations, with House representatives conceding on commodity subsidies for planted acres and the Senate agreeing to greater savings on food stamps. "We're making great progress; across the board we're trying to bring it all together," said Senate agriculture committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. "We are coming closer in every part of the bill."
A conference committee comprising 41 Senate and House negotiators is scheduled to meet next week to discuss a compromise on the farm bill. Negotiations are expected to result in spending cuts, with key issues including food stamps, farmers' conservation practices and subsidized crop insurance.
House and Senate agriculture committees are beginning to reconcile their versions of the farm bill. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, has served up a motion to blend the House measure with the Senate bill, which still includes food stamps. "This is a very important step as we move forward in what I am very confident, despite the twists and turns, will result in a bipartisan farm bill," Stabenow said.
House Republicans are expected to revive discussion of the farm bill, which was defeated last month. "We're going to take a bill up in July," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "We don't know what it's going to be yet, but we're going to take another stab at it." Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is exploring whether there is interest to split the bill in two, for agriculture and nutrition, with the latter addressing food stamps.
Congress passed the $300 billion farm bill for the second time on Wednesday, again overriding the president's veto. Two-thirds of the $300 billion will go toward nutrition programs, such as food stamps. Other funds will go toward farm subsidies and be allocated to protect environmentally sensitive land.