It’s a mess, but still salvageable.
That seems to be the view of Sen. Mike Johanns when asked about where Congress stands on the Farm Bill.
The Senate approved its version and waited on the House, which initially rejected the proposal brought to the floor by the House Agriculture Committee. The House then took up and barely approved legislation that included only agricultural policy, not the nutrition portion of the bill, which includes the food stamp program.
That wasn’t half a loaf. That was 20% of the loaf.
Agricultural policy only makes up 20% of the Farm Bill. The nutrition program takes up the remaining 80%.
Johanns, a former Secretary of Agriculture, says the Senate can go into negotiations with the House on the Farm Bill, even though the bill passed by the House doesn’t include food stamps.
“Now, I will add to that, we’ve got to build in some reality here. These are two really, really different bills,” Johanns tells reporters during a conference call.
Technically, the two chambers can begin negotiations. The House has approved a bill. Still, the House Agriculture Committee chairman has stated he doesn’t want to begin negotiations with the Senate before the House approves separate nutrition legislation.
If possible, Johanns would like to see a conference in August and a five-year bill sent to the president at the end of September.
“You know, any action is positive, but we’re still a long way away from getting a farm bill done. I think this is still a very, very complex process.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]