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Farm Bill on verge of passing hangs up and awaits action by lame-duck Congress

November 29, 2018

WASHINGTON D.C - A Nebraska Congressman holds out hope Congress can pass the Farm Bill during its short, lame-duck session.

The mid-term elections have passed, but it appears partisanship still might doom the Farm Bill this year.

“It’s my understanding that on the Senate side there won’t be one Democrat vote for a farm bill until they’re all ready to vote for it,” Republican Congressman Adrian Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, that creates quite a stalemate.”

Smith says farmers shouldn’t have to wait for a new Congress, which would mean the process starts from scratch.

It appeared the Farm Bill was headed for passage before the September 30th deadline, but snags arose, and it failed to pass. Then, the mid-term elections got in the way.

The House and Senate versions differ, with the big difference being a disagreement on the nutrition program, called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as the food stamp program. The House included new work requirement provisions for recipients of food stamps. The Senate has balked at the provisions. SNAP is the largest program in the Farm Bill.

Other issues have kept the Farm Bill from passing, though, such as a disagreement on the conservation program. A new problem has arisen as well. A dispute over forestry provisions in the bill have developed in wake of the wildfires in California and how much forest management might have contributed to the deadly fires. Democrats have opposed last-minute provisions pushed by Republicans.

Smith says agriculture is anxiously waiting for Congress to act.

“I would hope that we can get this done in a reasonable fashion so that farmers won’t be left wondering what U.S. farm policy is moving forward.”

An extension of the 2014 Farm Bill expires in December.

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