On July 18, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill, instead voting to send the bill to conference committee, where leaders from both chambers will spend the next several months hammering out differences between the two bills. There are a number of them, leaving many to question whether the conferees can produce a final bill by the September 30th deadline.
Key differences between the bills include deep cuts to the Nutrition Title, the Conservation Title and the Energy Title in the House version. Additionally, an amendment offered by Senator Grassley (R-IA), to limit subsidy payments under the crop insurance program, was expanded in the House.
The House conference committee includes 47 members, 29 Republicans and 18 Democrats, including 23 members of the Agriculture Committee, as well as representatives from the following committees: Education and Workforce; Energy and Commerce; Financial Services; Foreign Affairs; Natural Resources; Oversight and Government Reform; Science, Space and Technology; and Transportation and Infrastructure.
Before the conference can begin, the Senate must vote to go to conference and appoint conferees. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberts (R-KS) expects to vote as early as next week. The next step is holding a public meeting between the conferees, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway (R-TX) does not expect that initial meeting to happen before the August recess.