Conference committee is not expected to be named until after the House passes a SNAP bill or decides on another course of action.
Source: Western United Dairymen Weekly Update
The Senate approved a unanimous consent agreement last week to send the farm bill back to the House and formally request a conference.
The UC agreement allows Senate to appoint its conferees as early as this week. Senate conferees would consist of seven Democrats and five Republicans under the agreement.
"We are, in fact, now officially sending back our Senate bill to the House and requesting a conference on the farm bill," said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "This is a very important step. As everyone knows, we have been working very hard on a bipartisan basis in the Senate."
Stabenow (D-Mich.) urged the House to begin the conference process of a five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642) with the Senate.
"We’re ready to go to conference with a bipartisan bill that we passed twice," Stabenow said. "We want to do it this week."
The House approved its bill July 11 on a partisan 216-208 vote. The bill stripped the nutrition program from the rest of the farm policy legislation. The House bill also seeks to repeal the 1949 and 1938 permanent laws, which are considered major strongholds for agricultural interests. By contrast, the Senate-approved farm bill does not remove the Title IV provisions or repeal permanent law.
The House bill does include the Goodlatte-Scott amendment language that replaced the margin insurance and market stabilization components passed by the House Agriculture Committee with a margin insurance-only dairy producer safety net. During the June 19 Farm Bill vote, the House voted 291-135 to adopt the Goodlatte-Scott amendment. The Senate version contains the Dairy Security Act as well as the contentious nutrition title.
Also in the House bill, but not in the Senate version, is an amendment offered by U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) offering California dairy producers the opportunity vote on entering the Federal Milk Marketing Order with quota protections. The House version also contains language barring any state from having agricultural production or processing standards in excess of federal standards.
House leadership currently plans to make an attempt to pass a SNAP bill separately. At this time, the conference committee is not expected to be named until after the House passes a SNAP bill or decides on another course of action.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said Tuesday evening that a formal farm bill conference with the Senate will have to wait until the House decides what to do with a standalone food stamp measure. Lucas said that he cannot "in good faith" press GOP leaders to appoint conferees until he works to craft a bill cutting food stamp funding.
"It would be difficult for me to move for a formal conference unless we address the nutrition issue," Lucas said.