Cross-posted from the American Farm Bureau Federation
Nov. 13, 2013—Not stopping to take a break during the House’s recent weeklong recess, the work of the top four farm bill negotiators rolls on, with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) floating the possibility of a deal before the end of the month. Joining Stabenow in the meetings are Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).
Stabenow, Cochran, Peterson and Lucas are hardly going it alone though. Numerous other conference committee members and their staff are sorting through the nearly two thousand pages of farm policy legislation produced by both chambers.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spending is expected to be the biggest hurdle to clear in conference. The Senate’s farm bill calls for a $4.1 billion reduction in SNAP funding over the next decade, compared to the House’s $40 billion in cuts. Conferees have said little publicly about a strategy, but they are expected to be trying to find a level of SNAP reductions that would keep House and Senate Democrats on board, while getting enough support from House conservatives to send the bill to the president for his signature. For his part, President Barack Obama has said numerous times that he’s anxious to sign off on the bill.
Despite critical differences in SNAP spending and a few other areas, the legislation approved by the Senate and the measure passed by the House both offer a basic-but-broad risk management platform supported by all types of farmers and ranchers in all regions. Among the balanced risk management strategy are options based both on crop prices and revenue levels.
Looking at the long list of similarities between the bills, both work to protect crop insurance and offer enhancements through new provisions such as the Supplemental Coverage Option, a program that allows farmers to purchase an area-triggered revenue or yield insurance product to cover the deductible associated with the underlying individual or area insurance policy.