One of the biggest hurdles for getting a farm bill passed in 2018 will be the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Currently, SNAP serves 700,000 people each year, and votes from Democrats will be needed to push the bill across the finish line.
After working on eight farm bills in his career starting with the Reagan administration, Randy Russell of The Russell Group in Washington D.C., he said there hasn’t been a bill that’s been determined along party lines.
“I remember when we did Freedom to Farm back in the mid-90s, and that was probably as close as I’ve seen in terms of a partisan type of situation,” he told U.S. Farm Report host Tyne Morgan. “Having a straight partisan vote? I’ve never seen that before.”
There are reports the House will take up the bill next week. Once the House is finished, it will be passed to the Senate. Russell believes this won’t happen until after the Memorial Day holiday.
“The real challenge is going to come down to when you have to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bill over SNAP,” he said. “They’re going to be vastly different.”
If there’s no “killer amendments” to the bill, Farm Journal Washington D.C. correspondent Jim Wiesemeyer echoed those sentiments.
“It’ll depend in large part on the food stamp language whether or not a deal can be worked out between very different House and Senate bills and getting some reform to the SNAP or the food stamp program,” he said. “If [the House] can’t, you’ve got to question whether or not there are enough House votes to pass a conference report.”
This friction doesn’t appear to be repeated in the Senate. Weisemeyer isn’t expecting the same problems the House has.
“The issues are in the House—I’ve never seen a more visceral House farm bill markup than the one we just went through, ever,” he said.
Hear what Wiesemeyer and Russell say could happen if the farm bill is extended on U.S. Farm Report above.