Farm bill negotiators struggle with forestry, other issues in closing deal

Farm bill negotiators are struggling to work out deals on forestry regulations, commodity program eligibility rules and other issues with a goal of finalizing an agreement that Congress can vote on before adjourning in December.

“We’re getting close,” House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said Friday. “Momentum is building to get this done, so I’m encouraged.”

Conaway said the House committee’s top Democrat, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, had joined him in making the most recent proposals to settle disputes with their Senate counterparts. “This is now a House offer, not just a Conaway offer,” Conaway said.

Conaway said he was gearing up to pitch the final bill to his fellow Republicans, who will lose control of the House in January. The final legislation won’t include the tighter work requirements for food stamp recipients that had been a priority for many conservatives.

“I’m going to do the best sales job to make sure my guys know the binary choice that we face and that a farm bill done by a Pelosi-led House of Representatives will not be as good as the one we’ll have an opportunity to vote on this time,” Conaway told Agri-Pulse, referring to Nancy Pelosi, who expects to be elected House speaker.

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