The House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate continued negotiations to finalize the 2018 Farm Bill this week. Progress stalled over a proposal from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) to negotiate a budget cap for each individual title of the bill. This proposal would allow staff to work through the whole bill, title by title. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) expressed strong reservations with this approach and insisted the Conference Committee members first agree on which policies to include in the final bill.
“I’m going to insist that we have certain policy understandings before we come to conclusions on spending,” Representative Conaway said after a 90-minute meeting on Wednesday with Senator Roberts and other leaders of the Republican Conference. Representative Conaway amended the House version of the Farm Bill with conservative policies in the nutrition, conservation, and forestry titles that face difficulty in the Senate. Current funding for Farm Bill programs expires on September 30, 2018, unless the Congress approves a short-term extension. All indications arethat Congress will not finalize the Farm Bill before the end of the month and instead will pass an extension to allow more time for negotiations.