SNAP Deal Might be the Key to Farm Bill Movement

Farm groups are hopeful Congress can move a new five-year farm bill in the lame duck session. Prior to the recess for the election - the problem was in the House. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill this summer - but the farm bill never came to a vote in the House - even though the House Agriculture Committee did get a measure together. The main stumbling block has been the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - or SNAP. The program comprises about 80-percent of the expected cost of the farm bill. Republicans would like to find savings - while Democrats say the assistance should not be reduced. The farm bill approved by the House Ag Committee would cut around 16-billion dollars from SNAP. The Senate avoided large cuts. As a result - without an agreement on SNAP - the farm bill may well be delayed into the new year. Even if legislation is approved by the House - differences must be worked out with the Senate before the farm bill is completed. Pat Westhoff with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute says odds are against a five-year farm bill in the lame duck session unless it's part of a budget agreement - and believes a budget deal is also unlikely.

There's also a possibility food stamps could be separated from the rest of the farm bill. During the farm bill debate in the Senate there was an effort to sever the food stamps section from the rest of the bill. Though it failed in the Senate - Ohio's Jim Jordan will seek to do the same thing if the House does debate the farm bill before the end of the year.

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