First day of farm bill conference complete

The clock on the 2018 Farm Bill is ticking.  House and Senate conferees began formal talks on the farm bill this morning.

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz says agriculture desperately needs a bill that works for everyone.  “We wrote the last farm bill in good times,” he says.  “That was a mistake.  We write it now to understand.  We’ll get to see the moral fiber of the committee.  We’ll get to see our smart decision making as it moves forward.  And we’ll get to enhance that hard work out in Middle America and give them that certainty in a time of great uncertainty.”

There is a huge discrepancy between the House and Senate nutrition programs and it will likely become a sticking point in the debate.

Former House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says it shouldn’t be more difficult for those that need help to buy their food.  “Let’s make sure they have choices where they can use those nutrition benefits,” he says.  “And let’s give them as much flexibility in what they purchase.  I don’t want to have to stand behind some mother or some father who has to explain to their teenager or pre-teenager why they can’t buy the same products everyone else is buying.”

Last week House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway submitted a proposal to his Senate counterparts that would make significant compromises on SNAP.  Conaway told reporters Tuesday evening he’s willing to make significant changes to the House bill to get the farm bill across the finish line.

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