The House and Senate conference committee that will work on the farm bill will convene on Wednesday. Both sides are making optimistic statements about the possibility of a compromise plan – but many observers are skeptical.

The budget proposal in the House is substantially different from the farm bill passed by the House. The budget bill calls for cuts in farm bill spending of $184 billion over 10 years, about triple the cuts in the House farm bill and 8 times larger than those passed in the Senate.

The huge gap between the House and Senate on reforms to the food stamp (SNAP) program may be impossible to bridge. What then?

With high risk of conference committee gridlock, it is becoming more likely that the committee charged with developing a comprehensive budget for the government by mid-December will take over work on the farm bill to claim the “saving” and ease some of the sequester cuts that are scheduled to take affect at the beginning of the year.