Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the only lawmaker to chair the Senate and House Agriculture committees, will retire in 2020 after four decades in Congress. Roberts was the author of the landmark Freedom to Farm law of 1996 that removed most federal controls over what crops farmers grow.
As a demonstration of congressional determination to enact the new farm bill on time, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts wants the “Big Four” negotiators to meet before the House recesses for the rest of the summer. A meeting this week would “signal to farmers that we will get a bill ... before the Sept. 30 deadline,” he said.
Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts, who will chair House-Senate negotiations over the farm bill, plans a thorough but timely resolution of the differences between the two chambers’ versions, said a committee spokeswoman on Monday.
Roughly 16 months ago, at their first hearing for the 2018 farm bill, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts and Sen. Debbie Stabenow agreed to write a bipartisan bill that would be enacted on time, a seemingly simple goal that has eluded Congress repeatedly. With a committee vote set for Wednesday on their 1,006-page bill, the two committee leaders say they are on the verge of a major bipartisan victory.
The Senate could vote on the $87 billion-a-year farm bill in mid-June, but the legislation won’t repeat the House’s attempt at major SNAP reform, said Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts on Wednesday.
Farmers are worried about foreign retaliation to U.S. trade sanctions, said the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, suggesting that Congress may have to create a “special payment due to retaliation.”
The leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee have ruled out major changes in the food stamp program, effectively rejecting big cuts to the program before House Agriculture chairman Michael Conaway can write them into his committee’s version of the farm bill. (No paywall)
The Senate Agriculture Committee will draft its version of the 2018 farm bill in April if chairman Pat Roberts’ plans hold up. Roberts discussed the timeline for the bill, but not its contents, at a child nutrition luncheon.
Congress can save billions of dollars a year on the 2018 farm bill by axing crop subsidies, crop insurance and many conservation programs, says the free market American Enterprise Institute in reports issued today. Some of the money "should be re-allocated to programs that do provide U.S. households with genuine positive benefits," such as agricultural research, and the rest of the $16 billion a year "could be re-allocated to other uses, including lower tax rates," says AEI.