House and Senate farm bill conference committee members can’t agree on proposed reforms to the food stamp program, and the clock is ticking on getting the legislation passed this year.
“At this point, it doesn’t appear that there is an opportunity to get a bill done this month,” said Kam Quarles, vice president of public policy for the National Potato Council.
Entrenched positions regarding reforms of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the House version of the farm bill may soften after the November election, he said.
While there other points of disagreement between the House and Senate bills, Quarles said the “show-stopper” is SNAP reform.
“If they can’t take advantage of that window between the elections and the end of the year, it will become extremely complicated,” Quarles said. If a farm bill isn’t passed, Quarles said the current House and Senate bills would need to be rewritten and passed by both chambers again.
“We don’t want to go back to the drawing board,” Quarles said Oct. 9.
What’s more, a number of programs — including the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crop program — are not funded for fiscal year 2019 until the farm bill passes.
Quarles said both the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance continues to push hard for Congressional action on the farm bill.