Ag Committee members reach farm bill agreement 'in principle'

IFB welcomes the news, urges Congress to pass the bill before the end of the year.

By Deana Stroisch

U.S. House and Senate Ag Committee leaders announced Thursday they had reached agreement on the next farm bill “in principle.”

Details of the agreement weren’t immediately available. In a joint statement, the leaders said they were still finalizing conference report language and waiting for cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

“We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible,” they said.

News of an agreement in principle was welcomed by Illinois Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In recent weeks, more than 1,400 IFB members sent 5,000 messages to members of the Illinois congressional delegation urging them to pass a farm bill before the end of the year.

“The farm bill’s an important piece of legislation on which farmers and consumers alike depend,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “We look forward to reviewing the farm bill conference report and urge quick consideration.”

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said continued access to risk-management tools, assistance in foreign market development and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the farm bill “are especially important for farmers and ranchers.”

“These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face,” Duvall said. “Additionally, the bill continues to help low-income children, families, seniors and military veterans access the high-quality foods produced by farm families.”

The 2014 farm bill expired Sept. 30. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., along with ranking members Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have been working for months to negotiate differences between the chamber’s two farm bills.

Work and training requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients comprised a key difference between the two bills. But other differences also had to be worked out, including commodity and conservation programs.

Failure to pass a farm bill before the next Congress begins requires work to start over. The 116th Congress will be sworn in Jan. 3.

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