House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn, brought a proposal to the first Farm Bill Conference Committee meeting last Thursday that would use credit card sales reporting to increase funding by $5.5 billion. The proposal would eliminate the disaster aid program and proposed tax breaks. On Friday Senate Farm Bill conferees presented a counter proposal to the House that is based on the framework that was worked out between the two chambers on March 25. It provides $10 billion in additional spending including funds for disaster assistance. Offsets for the proposal were found by the Senate Finance Committee, which according to Senate Ag Committee Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, make the bill deficit neutral and maintains investments of the Senate-passed farm bill.
"The Senate farm bill is a strong bill and should be the model for the final farm bill that will become law," says Harkin. "It addressed myriad national priorities and looked ahead to the future by strengthening farm income and disaster protection and filling the gaps in nutrition assistance, investing in farm-based renewable energy, helping farmers and ranchers conserve our natural resources, and devoting substantial new funding to initiatives for growers of fruits, vegetables and horticultural crops. I urge House conferees to consider this framework and negotiate in good faith so that we can meet our April 18th deadline for the bill."
House and Senate Farm Bill conferees will meet Monday afternoon to discuss the proposal. To view the Senate proposal, click HERE.