Farm Bill passes House and Senate

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed their versions of the new Farm Bill, but differences remain to be resolved before a single bill can be passed and sent to the President for his signature. Joe Outlaw is Co-Director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University.

“The House passed its bill which has the same in spending but different priorities and it allocates the money differently than the Senate in their bill. And so what they have to do now is go to conference committee and that’s what they’ve named and the conference committee and the conferees are going to meet September fourth and they have to iron out the differences and say O.K., we’ll take the Senate version on this issue, we’ll take the House version on this issue.”

Outlaw says that the current 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September.

“The Senate has about seven or eight conferees at most. The House has about fifty. Why is there differences? Because that bill has a lot of jurisdictional things that’s beyond agricultural committee in the house, so they had to bring in Ways and Means and a lot of other committees to make it work.”

Outlaw points out that there are big differences between the Senate and the House on how the money should be spent.

“There’s fifty billion dollars’ worth of differences between those two bills right now. Fifty billion is a lot of money to try and iron out and so they’ve got to do that. To answer your question, when that passes the conference committee, that bill that does get changed, when it goes back, there’s no amending it, up or down, yes or no by each house. I think it all’s going to happen, whether it’s before or after the election I’m not sure, but it’s going to happen this year.”

Outlaw says that he is constantly asked why he worries so much about protecting farmers.

“The fact of the matter is we aren’t protecting farmers, we’re protecting consumers. This bill basically provides a safety net for producers and it does that, but it is a minimum level of protection to guarantee that cheapest food supply, the cost of food in the world.”