The 41 members of the conference committee outlined their priorities and issues that need to be addressed during the opening session of the farm bill conference.
The main issue mentioned was the need to reach agreement on the level of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This is the key to whether the farm bill can be completed this year. The differences between the House and Senate bills are huge and there is great passion on this issue by many of the conferees. Crop insurance reform is a high priority of the conferees. Members mentioned the need for a balanced commodities program that one program does not fit all commodities. A number of conferees mentioned the importance of conservation issues, including “Sodsaver,” EQIP, and Livestock Disaster Assistance. Other items mentioned were trade promotion programs, specialty crops, agriculture research, and forestry.