Farm Bill Passage Held Up in House

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Nebraska farmers are focused on harvest now, but some producers are keeping an eye on farm bill proceeding in Congress as they harvest too.

Nebraska Corn Board District 3 Director Curt Friesen says the hold up now is in the House of Representatives where members debate how much to cut from the food stamp program.

Friesen says the US Senate cut $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in their version, while the House Ag Committee cut $16 billion in theirs. He says for some it's too little and for others it's too much.

"Democrats don't want to be shown as cutting the nutrition program and the Republicans don't want to be shown as weak and not cutting enough, so in the end I guess it's a stand off," says Friesen.

But he says he still has hope: he says he and members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association were recently in Washington DC asking the Nebraska delegation to sign a discharge petition started by an Iowa congressman.

"[It] would basically bypass the leadership of the House and force a vote on the farm bill," Friesen says.

According to a cop of the discharge petition updated on Monday by the Clerk of the House, 53 representatives have signed it, including Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. To force a vote, the petition needs at least 218 signatures.

Nebraska's Third District Representative Adrian Smith said in a statement that his preference is to pass a five year farm bill, but he's hopeful there can be a short term solution in the near future.

"This is not a perfect scenario, but we need the best, most responsible policies to ensure producers have certainty now and opportunity in the future," Smith wrote.

But Friesen believes it will be harder to get a farm bill through a lame duck congress after the November election.

"We really don't want an extension, and from what I am hearing a lot of the House members don't want an extension either because that just continues the programs on as they are and they were looking to cut the budget and cut spending," he says.

Friesen says consumers should be watching the bill's progress and talking to their representatives too. He says food prices will be effected if there's no bill come next year.