Lawmakers began meeting last week to hash out differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The conference committee is charged with reaching an agreement on legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs for the next five years. Although the House and Senate legislation contain many similar provisions regarding agricultural research programs, there are major differences in funding for nutrition programs. The bills also differ on the total cost of the legislation. Both proposals would save the government billions of dollars over the next decade, but the House bill proposes steeper reductions.
Forty-one members of Congress are serving on the conference committee, which is led by the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Representative Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma), Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), and Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota).
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack highlighted the importance of the farm bill in his weekly address: “The Farm Bill’s importance extends beyond the farm safety net. It’s a research bill that continues our long history of agricultural innovation. The Senate-passed Farm Bill would authorize a new, non-profit research foundation, allowing the USDA to more effectively leverage millions of dollars in private investment toward agricultural research.”
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