The 2018 farm bill may finally have the momentum to clear Congress.
In a joint statement Nov. 29, House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders said they have reached a tentative agreement on the farm bill.
“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill,” House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairmen Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking members Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in the statement. “We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as Congressional Budget Office scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”
Industry leaders were waiting for more details about the agreement from lawmakers and hoping for a quick resolution.
“We continue to urge Congress to finish the farm bill in 2018 prior to the conclusion of the Lame Duck congressional session,” Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, said in an email.
The 2014 farm bill expired Oct. 1, and the House and Senate must pass the conference version of 2018 farm bill by the end of the year or start over when a new Congress is seated in January.
“It is extremely positive that the four conference leaders have been able to agree on a deal,” said Kam Quarles, vice president of public policy for the National Potato Council. “Assuming that the CBO cost estimates are in line, the work will begin to get the necessary votes for passage in the House and Senate. “
The Special Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crop program were among the outstanding issues that needed to be reconciled between the House and Senate farm bills, Quarles said in an email.