Farm Bill Inches Forward as Senate Renames Conferees, Officially Requests Conference

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) earlier this week renamed the Senate’s 12 conferees, and officially requested a conference to iron out differences between the versions of farm and nutrition legislation passed by both chambers.

Representing the Senate in the conference will be Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and fellow Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado. Republican Senate conferees include Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Republicans Pat Roberts of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Boozman of Arkansas and John Hoeven of North Dakota.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has yet to name conferees from his chamber, and it remains to be seen if the Speaker will name conferees representing the House Agriculture Committee, or if the contingent will come from the House as a whole. It also is unclear whether House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), a leader in the House’s effort to split the legislation into standalone farm and food components, will be among the House conferees. Given the ongoing shutdown of the federal government, however, there are questions over what priority the farm bill will take on Congress’ to-do list.

As always, ASA will keep members updated on the progress of the farm bill as it moves forward.