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An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Farm Bill Making Progress in Congress

BY ERIC BOHL

Farm Bill Making Progress in Congress

After months of negotiations, hearings, debate, partisan wrangling and general exasperation, the farm bill has only one more hurdle to clear before heading to President Trump’s desk. On Thursday, June 28, the U.S. Senate approved its version of the bill with an overwhelming 86-11 vote. This comes on the heels of the House’s much more divisive 213-211 squeaker the week before.

Missouri’s Congressional representatives overwhelmingly supported the bills, with Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill both voting in favor, plus six of Missouri’s eight members of the House. The only two Democrats in the House delegation provided the no votes. These votes came as no big surprise, as the Senate bill was seen as a broad bipartisan effort while the House bill was a bitterly partisan battle. Both Missouri Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau supported both bills and worked with Congressional members to secure their passage.

Congress will now form a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions and present a compromise bill that each chamber must vote on for final approval. Unfortunately, reconciling the differences between these two versions may be the hardest task yet for this bill. Many members of the House have insisted on retaining their bill’s reforms to the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, that would allow states to implement some work requirements on recipients. But these reforms are dead on arrival in the Senate, where they would come nowhere near the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

The current farm bill’s provisions expire on September 30 of this year – a deadline that looms larger with each passing day. If the conference committee is somehow unable to reach agreement on a final compromise bill or if either chamber votes to reject such a compromise, Congress may be left with no choice but to pass a one-year extension of the current law and come back next year to start this process all over again.

History is not on the side of the optimists, as no farm bill has passed before the previous one expired since 1977. Also, with a midterm election a mere four months away, politicians tend to get cold feet on taking any major votes.

However, agriculture leaders in Congress seem determined to make this year different and get a bill passed as soon as possible. Surprisingly, the amount of attention that will continue to circle around the immigration debate and the appointment and confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice may suck so much oxygen away from the farm bill debate that it is able to move relatively unscathed in the background.

Realistically, any compromise final bill needs to be done before Congress leaves for its August recess. There will undoubtedly be plenty of ups and downs over the next few weeks as the negotiations proceed, and Missouri Farm Bureau will continue to engage with Missouri’s lawmakers to get it across the finish line.


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES


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06-29-2017 - Come and Get It!

06-14-2017 - Meet Someone

04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

07-16-2015 - Time Well Spent

07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

04-29-2015 - Proper Road Etiquette

04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

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01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

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12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

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