Expect a farm bill in December, says Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman


Written by Leah Douglas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate’s chief negotiator for the largest U.S. farm spending package is looking to get the bill done in December, three months after the previous farm bill expired on September 30.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said at a Tuesday event hosted by the GOP Policy Center that the delay was about crafting a “workable” bill that would gain support — and require compromise — from both Republicans. And the Democrats.

“I’m aiming for December,” Stabenau said. “It’s really a matter of resources and ability to bring together bipartisan votes.”

The looming threat of a government shutdown also creates uncertainty about when the bill will pass, she said.

Neither the House nor the Senate have yet introduced their versions of the farm bill, which is passed every five years and funds agricultural commodity, nutrition and environmental conservation programs.

The Senate version of the bill would reserve for conservation programs $20 billion for climate-friendly agriculture allocated under the FRA, Stabenow said.

Senate Republicans on the Farm Committee proposed incorporating these funds into other headings of the bill.

“The number one threat to our farmers is the climate crisis,” she said. “I will not support taking those dollars and putting them at another address.”

White House Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta told Reuters in May that President Joe Biden’s administration would also fight any Republican effort to reallocate those funds.

Passage of the farm bill is often delayed by negotiations over nutrition programs and other spending. This year’s bill is expected to cost more than $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

(Reporting by Leah Douglas, Editing by Thomas Janowski)

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