Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., believes the farm bill conference committee will soon hash out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee member, in an email newsletter, said he is confident an agreement on the farm bill will be unveiled in January 2014.
The House and Senate during the summer of 2013 passed versions of the farm bill. But the two bills differ on how much to cut the nation's food stamp program and how to restructure farm subsidies. The House version of the farm bill also contains the King amendment, proposed by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. The King amendment has 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 Senate farm bill does not contain the King amendment.
The current farm bill, an extension of the 2008 farm bill, was set to expire in 2013. However, the House on December 11 approved another extension.
Johanns, a first-term senator who has already announced he will not seek re-election, is a former Nebraska governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as secretary under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007.