The long-awaited House-Senate Farm Bill conference began last week with the hope of striking an agreement on a comprehensive farm bill by the end of the year.  The leadership of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees emphasized the importance of getting the farm bill done this year.  Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and chairman of the farm bill conference, said, “Let’s give certainty and sound policy to our agricultural producers; let’s deliver taxpayers billions of dollars in deficit reduction; let’s continue to provide consumers the affordable and reliable food supply they have grown accustomed to.  Let’s work together to get our work done.”

Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, reminded everyone that if left alone the committee could reach agreement when he said, “I believe that if the Conference Committee is left alone and allowed to do our work, we’ll be able to find some middle ground and finish the farm bill.” 

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Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “There are 17 million men and women whose jobs rely on the strength of agriculture.  They are counting on us to work together in good faith and get this farm bill done.  And I am confident we won’t let them down.” 

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “The time to complete our work has come.  The farm bill expired on Sept. 30, so it is important that we reach a consensus and craft a conference report that will pass both the House and the Senate as soon as possible.”  Now the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership and staff will continue to work on an agreed bill.