CHN: Conferees Reach Tentative Farm Bill Deal
More Nutrition Title Details Expected Next Week
On Thursday, April 25, the House Agriculture Committee announced that the House-Senate Farm Bill Conferees have come to a tentative agreement on the framework for a final Farm Bill (HR 2646). Details of the specific policy provisions are expected to be revealed over the next few days as conference committee members review and finalize this legislation.
The tentative deal follows a yearlong process that culminated this week with marathon closed-door deliberations of hotly contested agriculture issues. The farm policy package includes agricultural, commodity, conservation and nutrition programs in addition to federal farm subsidies. The legislation will replace current farm, nutrition and land-conservation programs set to expire this fall and will reauthorize the Food Stamp Program until 2008. Overall, the new legislation is expected to boost agricultural spending by about 70 percent, an increase of approximately $7.4 billion a year.
Although it is still unknown exactly what is included in the legislation, the nutrition title of the Farm Bill is expected to include some restoration of food stamp benefits for legal immigrants who lost their eligibility with the enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law. Earlier this week the House passed a motion offered by Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) to instruct the House Farm Bill Conferees to adopt the Senate Agriculture Committee’s food stamp restorations for refugees and asylees, legal immigrant children, the disabled and those legal immigrants who have worked for four years – a proposal supported by the Bush administration. Although the motion, which passed by a vote of 244-171, is technically non-binding, it allowed a majority of House members to show their support for food stamp restorations for legal immigrants.
Conferees are expected to announce more details of the deal shortly, pending a review by the Congressional Budget Office. Once the legislation is finalized it will be sent to the House and the Senate floors for a full vote.