Senate Passes Farm Bill, But the Work Isn’t Done Yet


The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Thursday by a margin of 86-11.

The Senate was considering several amendments prior to passage. Amendments to reform crop insurance and checkoff programs failed shortly before the vote was taken.

Debates over funding USDA programs for trade with Cuba, and the idea of restricting President Donald Trump's tariff abilities both ended up slowing down the vote on Senate version of the farm bill but the bipartisan bill was approved.

Now comes the time for a conference committee to come together to settle the differences between the House’s bill and the Senate’s. Of course, the key difference between the two bills are the wide changes the House bill makes to the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP). Senate Agriculture Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said, “We know conference committee is going to be a wild and wooly debate as we go forward.”

The House bill passed by a narrow margin of just two votes last week as 20 Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Stabenow worked diligently over the past several moths to avoid the massive partisan debate the took place in the House. The Senate legislation does not make any large sweeping changes to the farm bill but does make some slight alterations that have largely gained support from agriculture groups.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) offered the following statement upon passage of the Senate bill, “Passage today of the Senate Farm Bill reflects a hard-fought victory, and I commend Chairman Roberts for his tireless efforts. I look forward to working together to send a strong, new farm bill to the president’s desk.”

Passing the farm bill prior to the July 4th recess does give Congress some time to come together and present a unified bill to President Donald Trump before the bill expires on September 30th. The bill still has a long road to walk before it becomes law but today it made a step in the right direction.

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