Farm bill conference committee members selected

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio on the afternoon of Oct. 11 named Republican members of the House of Representatives to a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences between the farm bill passed by the Senate and the bill passed by the House. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, ranking member on the House Committee on Agriculture announced the names of House Democrats who will participate in the conference committee.

Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, chairman of the House agriculture committee, said, “I am pleased to be at this point in the farm bill process where we are about to begin negotiations with our friends in the Senate and put a final bill together. This has been a long and challenging process, but that does not discount the progress we have achieved with billions of dollars in savings and reforms, and policy that works for all of agriculture all across the country. There are challenging issues yet to overcome, but we have a solid team of negotiators in place. I am confident we can reach consensus and send a five-year farm bill to the president.”

The Republican members of the conference committee include Representatives Lucas, Steve King of Iowa, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, K. Michael Conaway of Texas, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, Austin Scott of Georgia, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Jeff Denham of California. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Steve Southerland of Florida, Ed Royce of California, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania. Dave Camp of Michigan, and Sam Johnson of Texas.

Mr. Peterson said, “Appointing conferees might be a sign that, after repeatedly delaying and undermining the agriculture committee’s work, Republican leaders are finally getting serious about the farm bill. Conferees are committed to working together and getting a farm bill done but bringing divisive resolutions to a vote and appointing conferees outside the agriculture committee has made our jobs a lot harder.”

Mr. Peterson was referring to the appointment of Mr. Southerland, Mr. Royce, Mr. Marino, Mr. Camp and Mr. Johnson as conferees. Mr. Southerland championed controversial work requirements for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits that helped scuttle the House’s first version of its farm bill and helped lead to the House passing separate bills on agriculture programs and nutrition programs.

“The Democratic conferees represent our caucus and bring a great deal of expertise to the process,” Mr. Peterson continued. “I am hopeful that if Republican leadership can be reasonable and leave the conference committee alone to do its work that we will be able to finish a five-year, comprehensive farm bill this year.”

The following Democratic members will serve on the farm bill conference: Mr. Peterson, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jim Costa of California, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Gloria Negrete McLeod of California, Filemon Vela of Texas, Eliot Engel of New York, and Sandy Levin of Michigan.

Senate Democrats and Republicans earlier named their farm bill conferees.
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