The House Senate conference committee on the farm bill finally got underway this week.
On Wednesday, all 41 members of the committee made opening statements. Most talked about compromise and common ground and indicated a real commitment to developing a compromise bill over the next few weeks.
But in addition to the discussions about working together, there were indications that this will not be a smooth process.
Representative Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he will not accept dairy provisions authored by Representative Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and that now he will have the votes to kill it.
But referencing calls for sharp cuts to food stamp (SNAP) spending, Representative Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said, “I am willing to be flexible. I am willing to compromise. But I will not support a farm bill that makes hunger worse.”
Representative Steve King, R-Iowa, said one of his top priorities is to defend his provision that prevents states from blocking the commerce of agricultural goods approved by USDA or the FDA. So it seems that committee members are willing to compromise – except on issues they really care about – which may not be a good formula for success.
At least there is one point of agreement: Leaders of the conference committee from both the House and the Senate agree that they do not want the farm bill to get dragged into the overall budget conference committee that is working to replace sequester spending cuts.
Representative Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the farm bill conference committee said, “you can’t have our money if you don’t take our policy.”