Lawmakers working to iron out differences in farm bill

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Farmers are still waiting for Congress to pass a new farm bill. Lawmakers failed to agree on a new bill before it expired at the end of September and they still need to iron out their differences.

America is without a farm bill and Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois said politics is to blame. 

“Politics has really taken over this farm bill process more than I ever saw four and a half years ago,” said Davis.

Senator Debbie Stabenow is the lead Democratic Senator on the committee working to merge the House and Senate bills. 

She says the House bill moves too much money away from farmers in the Midwest to the cotton industry in the south. 

“I understand the chairman is from west Texas, and he wants to do that — but cotton prices have gone up and all other commodities have seen drops of 50 percent,’ said Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Davis defended Republican Chairman Mike Conaway. 

“I know that Chairman Conway gave multiple compromises and they were rejected by Democrats in the Senate,” Davis said.

But Stabenow points out the Senate passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill, while the House took two tries to pass a very partisan bill. 

“There’s just some tough negotiating left,” Stabenow said.

The House and Senate have to work out several differences, including food stamp work requirements and conservation funding. 

Still, Stabenow and Davis say farmers don’t need to worry yet. 

“The programs you rely on in central Illinois, they’re not going to change, even with this expiration,” said Davis.

They say it’s not unusual for a farm bill to expire before lawmakers agree to a final deal. 

“It’s a large complicated bill, but we’ll get it done,” Stabenow said.

If the committee can’t come to an agreement by year’s end, lawmakers say they’ll pass a temporary extension. 

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