President Trump is urging farm bill conference committee members to pass the 2018 farm bill with work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients.
In a tweet on Sept. 5, Trump said “The Trump Economy is booming with help of House and Senate GOP. #FarmBill with SNAP work requirements will bolster farmers and get America back to work. Pass the Farm Bill with SNAP work requirements!”
The 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee concluded its first public meeting Sept. 5, with lawmakers agreeing on the need for a new farm bill but not yet on how to get there.
The House and Senate passed different versions of the farm bill, and the conference committee is given the task of creating a final version that can be passed by both chambers. The farm bill conference Committee is composed of 56 members, including nine senators and 47 representatives.
“Today my colleagues in the House and Senate highlighted the urgency in farm and ranch country and just how desperate times are as net farm income is slated to fall again this year,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said after the meeting. “While I’m pleased with progress on the farm bill – we must pick up the pace. This will all come together quickly if all four principals are willing to make meaningful compromises. I have made it very clear that I am willing to do so. We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe we can get this done on time.”
The farm bill passed by the House of Representatives would increase SNAP work requirements to recipients as old as 65, up from the current 49. No House Democrats supported the House farm bill.
The Senate version extended job training programs but did not include House provisions for expanded work requirements.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in prepared remarks before the Sept. 5 meeting said that he was intent on getting the farm bill passed.
“Nobody in this room is going to get everything he or she wants; this process is about compromise,” he said.
Conference committee member Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said during the Sept. 5 meeting that the farm bill is important to specialty crop producers.
“My Central Valley district is one of the top producing agricultural areas in the nation, and as a local farmer, I know how vital it is for my constituents and our nation that we protect our farmers and our farmland,” he said in his remarks. “California farmers must be treated fairly and promoted in the 2018 Farm Bill, and I look forward to working with all of you as we conclude our deliberations.”
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has been meeting in recent weeks with House and Senate Democrat and Republican members to fight for industry’s priorities for the final farm bill, said Laura Phelps, consultant with the American Mushroom Institute.