Another Step Forward on Farm Bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow asked unanimous consent on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon to move to a conference with the House on the farm bill. The Senate accepted her resolution without exception. Stabenow called the action - which will send the farm bill back to the House and set the stage for a conference and the appointment of conferees - a very important step. Stabenow asked that Senate conferees be appointed with a ratio of seven Democrats to five Republicans. There was no objection. Despite the twists and turns to this point - Stabenow expressed confidence that Congress will approve a bipartisan farm bill. Stabenow reiterated that the Senate produced a comprehensive, bipartisan, balanced farm bill that addresses the agricultural needs and concerns of the country. She said the bill addresses food security, conservation of our soil and water, bioenergy and rural development. Stabenow specifically thanked Committee Ranking Member That Cochran and committee members John Hoeven and Saxby Chambliss for their work in the process. She also commended House Ag Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson for their efforts. Stabenow said she is confident that working together - they can get this done for the American people.

On a related note - because the nutrition title was removed from the farm bill approved on the House floor - Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern and 28 other House members have asked House Ag Chair Frank Lucas to hold a thorough hearing on nutrition and the impacts of changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program before a stand-alone nutrition bill is considered by the House. In a letter to Lucas - the Representatives note there has not been one single hearing in the 113th Congress about the programs that make up the Nutrition Title. It goes on to state that despite differing views on the Nutrition Title - and SNAP specifically - it should not be controversial to conduct oversight hearings on those programs.

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