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Farm Bill Conferees Continue to Debate

House and Senate conferees continue to debate provisions that would be included in a final Farm Bill. An interesting twist to the debate is the potential for a final bill to become the budget “offset” vehicle to achieve substantial reductions in the larger budget debate. As written, the Senate measure is estimated to achieve $18 billion in savings over the next 10 years and the House version of the Farm Bill would save nearly $52 billion — much of that figure from significant reductions in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Both estimates come from Congressional Budget Office analyses of the two legislative proposals. The savings reality is likely to fall somewhere between the two estimates.

Farm Bill conferees have met twice to work through issues such as those relating to price supports and subsidies, agricultural practices, and conservation. Key questions remain regarding whether to and how much to cut Federal food stamp subsidies and whether to tie conservation requirements to crop insurance. Despite these thorny issues, conferees continue to remain positive that they will have a compromise bill in place by the end of this year.