Cynthia Johnson, Forum News Service, Published September 26 2013
Cramer: House will seek farm bill that includes food stampsWASHINGTON - The House will try to tie food stamps and agriculture in a single farm bill again early next week in hopes of a bipartisan compromise, Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Thursday.
That means lawmakers will miss a Monday deadline, when the current farm bill expires.
“I find great encouragement in the leadership’s willingness and desire to pass a rule that ties the two back together that certainly makes reconciliation with the Senate in conference committee much easier as well,” Cramer said.
In July, the Republican-dominate House passed a stand-alone farm bill that did not include food stamps and other nutritional programs. The Democrat-dominated Senate’s farm bill followed the traditional formula in which nutrition and agriculture went together.
If the House fails to tie the two together, both sides would have to go into conference committee and try to reconcile two very different farm bills.
Some in the Senate are losing patience.
“This Senate stands ready to go to conference. We’ve been waiting a long long time and the house continues to delay delay delay, and, as a result, we’re missing the deadline,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
The current farm bill, which passed in 2008, was to expire Sept. 30, 2012, and Congress has been working on extensions since.
Heitkamp said she doesn’t believe Congress will get another extension if the deadline is missed this time.
Though the bill expires Monday, most agriculture programs will continue until the end of the year because they extend through the crop year. Food stamps are financed through an annual appropriations bill, and their funding will continue despite uncertainty on the farm bill.