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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Farm bill future still uncertain

  • Even though the U.S. House has passed a farm bill proposal, the reality is most realize the legislation is not going anywhere.
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  • Even though the U.S. House has passed a farm bill proposal, the reality is most realize the legislation is not going anywhere.
    What that means is the federal farm bill is going to expire today.
    The five-year farm bill officially expired one year ago, but an extension was approved by Con-gress. That extension is officially up as of today.
    While the Senate has also approved a bill, something it did several months ago, the House bill is far different, and the House bill, which was approved by a 217-210 vote on primarily party lines, includes a split of two major portions of the farm bill – the farm program and the food stamp program, which is officially known as the Supple-mental Nutritional Assist-ance Program (SNAP).
    Congressman Collin Peterson, who represents Minnesota’s Sev-enth Congressional Dis-trict and is the ranking Democrat on the House ag committee, continues to express his disappointment in how political the farm bill has become.
    Peterson was chair of the ag committee when the 2008 farm bill was approved, and he has continued to be active with the current proposal.
    Peterson said the fate of the farm bill is “anybody’s guess.”
    Although both the House and Senate have passed bills, House leadership has not yet appointed conferees, and until that happens, the two groups can’t meet to create a compromise bill that would then be presented to Congress for final vote.
    The split of the two major portions of the bill, surmised Peterson, is based on pressure from organizations that want to see farm programs and subsidies come to an end.
    Splitting SNAP from the farm program portion of the bill would allow that to happen, he said, adding the two programs are together to help create the kind of bill both rural and urban legislators can accept, because it offers something in it for everyone.
    Although the bill is going to expire today, the programs would not officially end until Dec. 31, and Peterson said perhaps when people hear how those changes would impact them, essentially doubling the price of some food products, more action would happen.
    Peterson said the farm program portion of the bill provides the safety net farmers need, and he said more than 500 farm groups support the bill the House ag committee had proposed.
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