Wednesday, May 30, 2018

McConnell wants legal hemp and no food-stamp work requirements in Senate version of Farm Bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee is finalizing its draft of the Farm Bill, and if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, it won't include work requirements for food stamp recipients but will legalize hemp production. McConnell told The Wall Street Journal last week that "the Senate bill doesn’t need to expand work requirements for able-bodied adults who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a key feature of the farm bill that Republicans are struggling to push through the House," Philip Brasher reports for Agri-Pulse.

In addition to the work issue, the Senate bill has two key differences with the House bill, which recently failed to pass because of a dispute about immigration. "The Senate bill would keep the Conservation Stewardship Program in operation and contain an energy title to fund assistance for renewable energy, biorefinery projects and other priorities," Brasher reports. "The House bill would eliminate both CSP and the energy title and would provide no mandatory funding for energy programs."

McConnell told Agri-Pulse last month that he will try to bring the bill to the floor as soon as it clears the committee, which he hopes will happen before the end of the summer. The bill still has a ways to go before that happens, with committee members hashing out issues such as debated changes to crop insurance.

Because the Senate is in recess this week and the Congressional Budget Office has not finalized the bill's cost estimates, the week of June 11 is likely the earliest the bill could pass out of committee.

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