The agriculture industry took a big sigh of relief on Thursday when the Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill. The relief may be short-lived. There is still a long way to go to get a bill on the President’s desk, and the toughest hurdle still awaits us.
A Farm Bill has been talked about for almost 2 years now. First, we were hoping to have it done early. Then, there were listening sessions all over the country. Now, both houses have passed a farm bill. This is great news if you are willing to overlook the fact there are two very different Farm bills which must be merged into one. Not only must there be an agreement reached, but the compromised bill must pass both houses to go to President Trump’s desk.
There is also no guarantee the President will sign a compromised bill, because of the differences he has in his vision for the legislation. The President has come out in favor of stricter work requirements, as espoused in the House version of the Farm Bill. The Senate has said a bill like that will have no chance in the upper chamber, because there would be no way to get bi-partisan support for it. Bi-partisan support is essential as Republicans do not hold a 60-vote super majority. Remember how Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) touted bipartisanship after Thursday’s vote?
The Senate bill also carries the blessing of several groups.
It is hard to say who holds the upper hand going into conference committee negotiations. The only thing which can be said is the Senate holds the control in the conference committee in this round. Last time it was the House. This may be the only edge one bill has over the other.