Will there be a new farm bill in this lame duck session? Last week we heard House Republican Jim Banks from Indiana’s 3rd district say, “The worst thing that can happen is for a farm bill to be punted to the next Congress.”
Congressional Relations Director for the American Farm Bureau Federation Andrew Walmsley agrees.
“Well that is the worst thing that could happen is to not get this done during the lame duck. But I’m optimistic and pretty confident that we’ll be able to wrap up this farm bill before the end of the year. The four principles, after the election, have all said that it’s their intention. That’s definitely the conversations we’ve had with staff is that they’re putting a package together that’s coming into a landing zone that’s going to, I think, be beneficial for agriculture. The election had to take place. We had to get beyond that. That’s behind us now. I think we definitely now have an opportunity to wrap this thing up.”
With Democrats winning the majority in the House, significant concessions will likely have to be made on the part of Senate Republicans and President Trump as it relates to food stamp work requirements.
“I don’t think there was ever the expectation that the final form was going to be exactly the Senate bill or exactly the House bill. There were issues that both chambers would have with that and that’s what the conference process is all about. We’ve been working on this for three months. I think they’ve got pathways to get it across the finish line. The election maybe helped decide some of those issues for them.”
Questions remain on just how dug in President Trump is on stricter SNAP work requirements. He has said he wants them in the bill, a demand that some interpreted as a subtle veto threat. Though many are not taking that threat seriously.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who could become the next Speaker of the House, said in an election night speech that the win for Democrats in the House is about, “stopping the GOP.” When asked if the next couple of years will just be contentious without a lot of true governing, Walmsley said that remains to be seen.
“But if the two parties decide that they want to govern, that they want to do what’s best for the country, move forward, Farm Bureau and our members are going to be there as part of that process and see what opportunities present themselves to get some good policy signed into law. If not, the mudslinging will probably continue and the evening news will continue to be probably pretty entertaining.”