Hoeven calls for conference committee on House, Senate farm bills

This week, the House sent its version of the farm bill over to the Senate. Some Democratic senators are hesitant to go to conference with the House version because the House separated out funding for food assistance programs in order to get enough GOP support to pass it.

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Hoeven pointed out that that current farm bill expires in September, so lawmakers need to act before the August recess.

“I urge my colleague to join with me now to form a conference committee with the House on the farm bill,” Hoeven said. “We need to get going. We need to get this done.”

Hoeven said the farm bill was about more than food, that it was really a jobs bill because 16 million people in America are employed in the agriculture industry.

The Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill earlier this year that reduces spending by $24 billion. The House tried to pass a comprehensive farm bill shortly after that, which would have cut more than $30 billion — $20 billion of which came from food stamp reductions. Democrats in the House wouldn’t support such a large cut to food stamps, and some conservative Republicans still demanded more cuts, so the first House farm bill failed.

House Republicans tried a second time, and passed a farm bill earlier this month that removed food assistance from the bill entirely. In the past, the majority of farm bill funding has been for the food supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

Republicans heralded the separation of food assistance from farm subsidies as a major conservative victory, while Democrats say it threatens support for low-income and struggling families during a time of high unemployment.