The odds of Congress passing a farm bill in the lame duck session may be better than many expect, as high as 65 percent, according to one speaker at the Southern Crop Production Association annual meeting, Nov. 13 in Asheville, N.C.
Jay Vroom, recently retired president and CEO of CropLife America, puts farm bill passage at that high level, saying that most of the baseline issues have been all but resolved — crop insurance, CRP and funding for research.
The last sticking point, he says, will be nutrition, and he thinks the Republican members of the four principals who will be working out the details, will be willing to make concessions.
Mike Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Agricutlure Committee, and Pat Roberts, R-Kans., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, along with Ranking Members Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., are expected to work through the details.
Vroom expects Conaway and Roberts to be willing to pare back some of the work requirements the House included for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) recipients.
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“I think they will agree on a more targeted program that might limit state waivers,” Vroom said.
He also believes Congress prefers to get the bill done instead of opting for a one-year extension or waiting until the new Congress, with the House of Representatives in Democrat control, can take it up.
“I think we have a pretty good chance of getting the bill done while Republicans are still in charge.” He says Peterson has expressed his desire to finish the bill in the lame duck session as well.
Vroom says Peterson, presumptive chairman of the next House Agriculture Committee, is a strong advocate for agriculture, a “Blue Dog Democrat. Thank God for Collin Peterson. We are glad he continues to run for office.”
In an earlier presentation, Sid Miller, Texas commissioner of agriculture and president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, said he expects the farm bill to pass this year.
“The farm bill is on everyone’s mind,” Miller says. “It’s already late. But I think it’s highly likely that the farm bill will pass in the lame duck session. Rep. Conaway and Sen. Roberts want their names on the farm bill. All four principals are meeting now, and I think the Republicans will be agreeable to compromise. I think the changes to the SNAP program (supported by the House) will not be in it.”
He adds that without that provision, “it risks President Trump not signing it.”