House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson Offers First Glimpse into Final '18 Farm Bill DealTue, 04 Dec 2018 15:58:31 CST
News broke recently that the four principle negotiators had come to an agreement on a final version of the Farm Bill. The White House Office of Management and Budget has been scoring the bill this week, with anticipations that the bill could be quickly moved on to chambers for a vote. However, with the death and memorial services being held this week for former President George H. W. Bush, the bill is likely not to be officially filed until the first of next week. Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Congressman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), is the first of the conferees to make himself available to reporters for questions about what this new Farm Bill will entail. You can listen to audio of his recent press conference with reporters, featuring questions from Carah Hart with Red River Farm Network, to hear Peterson discuss the different provisions included in the bill, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“It’s pretty much a status quo Farm Bill,” Peterson said, remarking that the dairy portion of the bill which he worked on is probably the best part of the legislation. He remarked that after this bill is passed, dairy farmers will have to work very hard to lose money. Peterson also stated that some changes had been made to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which would raise the cap on total acres up 3 million acres. He says a provision has also been included that will keep “good” land out of the program - with payments capped at 90 percent of the rental rates for the county continuous and 85 percent for general sign up, plus a requirement of general sign up every year.
In addition, Peterson says he has added a provision that will require CRP land with permanent easements to be opened up for public hunting.
Peterson says he attempted to raise the reference price for farmers enrolling in the Price/Loss Coverage (PLC) program, but without any significant extra money available, he says he was unable to accomplish this.
What really allowed the deal to be struck, though, was a recent softening by the Republicans on their stance to reform work requirements in the Nutrition Title’s SNAP program. Peterson says his counterparts on the Senate side struck the deal originally, which he signed off on and then the three persuaded House Ag Chair Michael Conaway to agree. Peterson says that barring anything else, there should not be any other challenges in getting the legislation passed.
“I think almost all the Democrats in the House are going to vote for this bill,” he said. “So, the question is how many Republicans are going to vote for this? I don’t know. But, in spite of all this rhetoric and Conaway saying he can’t do this with out it - here we are - where we should have been six months ago.”
Peterson says the real issue is with the waivers that have taken half of those enrolled in the SNAP program, off of the work requirements that already exist in the bill that have been there since 1996. Peterson says it is hard to explain that to people though, and more stringent reform has been called for instead.
“If people would have listened to Pat Roberts and I six months ago, this bill would have been done six months ago,” he remarked. “Because, this stuff that was brought in are things that he and I told people not to do and they did it anyway and it held us up all this time. Frankly, it’s a damn miracle we got it all done.”
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