State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Casey says compromise could be near on farm bill

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 6, 2014 11:38 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf


Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey used visit to the 98th annual Farm Show to note his optimism a long-term farm bill will be approved in Congress within the next few months.

The farm bill expires every five years, but last year, Congress could only muster a short-term extension of certain parts.

The measure sets a raft of food and agriculture policy across the country, including changes to help farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed comply with federal conservation regulations, as well as the much more controversial federal food stamps program, which helps poor families buy groceries.

Right now, a bipartisan conference of House and Senate lawmakers is hashing out a compromise on food stamps funding.

"You have a range of proposals," Casey said, "from having no cuts, to having, in the Senate farm bill, about $4 billion in cuts, and then all the way to the other end of the scale, which was Republicans in the House insisting on $39 billion to $40 billion in cuts."

"So it's late, but it seems to be at a point now where it's going to pass," Casey added. He said it looks like a proposal may advance in the next couple months. If it doesn't, the country risks going over the so-called dairy cliff - a spike in the price of milk, which is just another policy feature tied up in the farm bill.

The measure includes help for farmers within the Chesapeake Bay watershed who must comply with federal conservation regulations, as well as changes in dairy policy and funding for food stamps.

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