In May, the House Agricultural Committee Chairman, Mike Conaway (R-Texas), produced a Farm Bill that had no Democratic support, in part because it included provisions that would require most adults receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) to prove every month that they worked or were in job training for 20 hours per week. Analysts estimate that provision could cut two million people from SNAP. The bill also eliminated the Conservation Stewardship Program (70 million acres), included no reform of crop insurance or commodity programs, and eliminated funding for Value Added Producer Grants, Rural Energy Assistance, Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion, National Organic Cost Share, Risk Management Education Partnership, and Rural Microenterprise Assistance. This Farm Bill was voted down on the floor as all Democrats and a group of conservative Republicans opposed it.
The conservative group—the House Freedom Caucus—demanded a vote on their favored immigration bill—which legalizes DACA, fully funds Trump’s border wall, cuts legal immigration, sets up a new guestworker program, and institutes E-verify, among other things—before they would vote for the Farm Bill. A moderate group of Republicans also demanded a vote on a similar immigration bill that does not include the guestworker program or E-verify. This vote is scheduled to occur the week of June 18. Both bills are likely to fail since Democrats will not vote for them. After that, the Farm Bill may be reconsidered in the House.
On June 13, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted out a Farm Bill that had bi-partisan support. The Senate bill looks a lot like the previous Farm Bill and includes all of the conservation and local food programs that CAFF supports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he hopes to bring the bill before the full Senate by June 29, which is the last day that Congress is in session before the July 4 recess. McConnell has a provision in the bill that will allow Kentucky to return to its historic role as a major hemp producer, so he has real incentives to get it done.
To look at the details of the Senate bill, see http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/senate-ag-committee-farm-bill/ and the links to even more details.