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LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

Farm bill unlikely until next year

12/11/2013 at 10:15 a.m.


From the Stephens Washington Bureau:

WASHINGTON — Arkansas farmers anxious for Congress to enact a new farm bill will likely have to wait until early next year.

Arkansas lawmakers said Tuesday that they don’t expect those dire predictions will materialize, and are prepared to pass a short-term extension to avoid such pratfalls.

“I think a very short-term extension is doable,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., a member of the negotiating team that is hashing out differences between farm bills approved earlier this year by the House and Senate.

Boozman said everyone is negotiating in good faith but it takes time to write legislative changes and still more to have them reviewed by non-partisan budget analysts. The work is essentially completed on agriculture policies, he said, but some work remains on nutrition programs.

The House approved a bill that would cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next decade while the Senate called for $4 billion in cuts.

Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, who is also on the negotiating team, said earlier he expected the final agreement would cut about $10 billion by limiting the ability of states to enroll recipients into the SNAP program — formerly known as food stamps — through other assistance programs.

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