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Farm Bill Negotiations Hit A Snag

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Spencer, IA: (Jan. 09, 2014) – The Washington publication, “The Hill” says a fight over dairy provisions is threatening to hold up completion of the farm bill.
A meeting of conferees was expected to take place this week, but that now appears doubtful. The dispute pits the House Ag Committee Ranking Member, Collin Peterson, against House Speaker John Boehner.

Peterson is insisting on including dairy supply management provisions in a new farm bill. Boehner is insisting they be stripped out.

House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says he is in a tough spot. “If you’re between your ranking member and your speaker, that’s a tough position to be in a conference committee,” Lucas said.

Other issues appear to be nearing settlement, including cuts to nutrition spending. Lobbyists report that lawmakers are coalescing around cuts of $8 to $10 billion over the next decade, much lower than the $39 billion cut proposed by the House plan.

The previous farm bill was passed in 2008, and an extension of that law expired in September. Late last year lawmakers agreed to finish work on a new bill by the end of January. With the recess for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday looming, that deadline appears doubtful.

But, in a conference call with reporters Thursday, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin said the latest delay will not be “fatal” to completion of the farm bill. Harkin, a conferee on the farm bill, says he’s confident differences will be ironed out and a farm bill completed, even if it takes a couple of extra weeks.

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