The leaders of both Agriculture Committees met Thursday night following House passage of a disaster aid bill to discuss consideration of the five-year farm bill. Without revealing many details – Stabenow told The Hagstrom Report the meeting was great. She said she and Senate Ag Ranking Member Pat Roberts wanted House Ag Chair Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson to understand how much they want a five-year bill passed. Stabenow expressed full confidence in Lucas – but added House approval of a disaster package will put pressure on the Senate leadership to act on the issue. She advised the leadership that passing a five-year farm bill is a better way to address it. Still – Stabenow said in a Senate floor speech late Thursday that she will pursue a dual strategy in September to pass a full farm bill or – if that effort fails – comprehensive disaster aid. If the Senate does have to move a stand-alone disaster aid bill – Stabenow said it will be a strong, comprehensive disaster assistance program for all communities – not just livestock.
Following the work of the House Agriculture Committee on the farm bill – there was talk of House and Senate committee staff working over the August recess to make it easier to move a bill once Congress returns in September. Stabenow did not say whether she, Roberts, Lucas and Peterson reached agreement on a work agenda for that purpose. It will be tight when Congress returns to the Hill – as the House will only have seven or eight legislative days in September. Lucas said the staff could work on some issues – but said the four leaders would need to be present for major decisions.