Ag lobbyist: more time is needed for farm bill

An ag lobbyist says lawmakers still have a lot of appropriations work ahead and that will continue to delay farm bill progress.

Randy Russell with the Russell Group says the House did not pass their version of the ag appropriations bill and it could be a week before a vote happens in the Senate. He tells Brownfield there are differences between the two bills that need to be worked out in a conference committee.

“The funding allocations for the House Ag Appropriations bill was extremely low compared to what it was in the Senate. They had to cut a lot of programs and reallocate funding, kind of robbing Peter and giving it to Paul,” he says. “There are also some policy riders in the House bill that weren’t going to get any Democratic support and only some Republican support.”

Russell says a continuing resolution is expected by the end of the month to keep the government funded through December. He says a delay in the appropriations process likely means the farm bill will be extended at the end of the year.

“The question is: how long will that extension be? I think the best case scenario now is to get the bills marked up in the House and Senate Agriculture committees and maybe off the floor of the House or Senate before we break at New Years and then, come back and finish it in the next 3 to 4 months of next year.”

Russell says it’s unusual to not have a public draft of the farm bill available by now and that lack of progress could make it more difficult to pass a farm bill before the election cycle begins next spring.

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