U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has named the House farm bill conference committee members, clearing the way for farm bill negotiations to begin. Among the committee members, who were announced on October 12 are 17 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
Republican House appointees are Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, Steve King, Randy Neugebarger, Mike Rogers, Michael Conaway, Glenn Thompson, Austin Scott, Rick Crawford, Martha Roby, Kristi Noem, Jeff Denham, Steve Southerland, Ed Royce, Tom Marino, Dave Camp and Sam Johnson. Democrats include Collin Peterson, Mike McIntyre, Jim Costa, Tim Walz, Kurt Schrader, Jim McGovern, Suzan DelBene, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Filemon Vela, Marcia Fudge, Eliot Engel and Sandy Levin.
"I am pleased to be at this point in the farm bill process where we are about to begin negotiations with our friends in the Senate and put a final bill together," said Lucas. "This has been a long and challenging process, but that does not discount the product we have achieved with billions of dollars in savings and reforms, and policy that works for all of agriculture all across the country. There are challenging issues yet to overcome, but we have a solid team of negotiators in place. I am confident we can reach consensus and send a five-year farm bill to the president."
Senate conference committee members, previously announced, include Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Thad Cochran, Pat Roberts, Patrick Leahy, Tom Harkin, Amy Klobuchar, Max Baucus, Serrod Brown, Amy Klobuchar, Saxby Chambliss, John Hoeven and John Boozman.
The Senate on June 10 passed its version of the farm bill, which would expand government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts to food stamps. The legislation is estimated to save about $2.4 billion a year on farm and nutrition programs, including across-the-board cuts that took effect earlier in 2013.
The House passed a different version of the bill on July 11 that did not include food stamp provisions. The House version also included the King Amendment, which would have the potential to nullify more than 150 state laws affecting agriculture, including California's Proposition 2, which aims at ending the use of battery cages for laying hens. The House then on September 19 passed its second piece of the farm bill, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act, which specifically addresses food stamp reform and potentially saves $40 billion.