It appears the next farm bill will be led by decisions made in the U.S. Senate. Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns points out that’s very unusual. Typically the House writes the farm bill and the Senate may do some fine-tuning. Work is already progressing in the Senate as the Senate Ag Committee begins a series of farm bill hearings next Wednesday. According to Johanns, - my sense is we could get a majority to pass a bill out of committee, maybe even much stronger than a majority.
This session of the House features a lot of new members. Johanns says creating a farm bill - is kind of a unique process – and that will present a special set of challenges for the new members.
Right now, 83 percent of the farm bill is focused on food stamps, the SNAP program, free and reduced lunch at schools, and the WIC program. The remaining 17 percent of the bill affects agriculture. And as Senator Johanns puts it - the farm programs are really a footnote anymore, and on two out of three of the programs, you’re not paying anything because farm prices have been good.