AGRIBUSINESS: Agreement Reached By House Working Group On Nutrition Bill

Yesterday House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said that the nutrition bill working group established by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has reached agreement on a nutrition bill that would cut spending by $40 billion over 10 years.

South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem, a member of the working group, said lawmakers developed 6 or 7 points that Cantor will use to write legislation over the August recess. The measure, according to Lucas, will be brought up in September, though he didn’t predict if it would be able to garner the 218 votes required for passage.

However House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson calls the legislation another political messaging bill to nowhere. He says the Republican Leadership clearly has no interest in compromise or actual legislating, and that adding an additional $20 billion in nutrition cuts to the cuts in the ill-fated June farm bill kills any hopes of passing a 5-year farm bill this year.

The farm bill approved by the Senate only makes $4 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says Cantor’s decision to bring up a bill to make $40 billion in cuts means conference on the farm bill can’t proceed in August as planned. She adds it will be very difficult to finish a farm bill this year. Stabenow also says it will be difficult to pass a farm bill extension.