The overdue $1 trillion U.S. Farm Bill, which has been stuck in Congress for about two years, could be ready for final approval on Monday and pass within days, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The Post, citing senior House aides, reported that an agreement could be finalized as early as Monday and it could clear the Republican-controlled House with sufficient bipartisan support and be approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate by a mid-February recess.
"We remain optimistic that we can reach agreement in time to be on the floor next week," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) said in a message sent over the weekend to his colleagues, the Post reported.
The comprehensive five-year bill, which could cut up to $9 billion in funding for food stamps over a decade, could be filed Monday night and called up for a vote by Wednesday, according to Politico.
The $9 billion in cuts to the food stamps program, known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is reportedly a compromise between the Senate, which proposed a $4 billion cut and the House's proposal to cut $39 billion. The SNAP provides 47 million low-income Americans with funds to pay for food, Reuters reported.
According to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the farm bill helps reduce the deficit and supports 16 million jobs in agriculture.
With a consensus having been arrived on the SNAP issue weeks ago, the Post reported, citing aides, discussions were now aimed at addressing concerns regarding the ending of price controls on the dairy industry.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans have argued that the program has cost billions of dollars in taxpayer money while driving up the price dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, according to the Post. But, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle from states that rely on the dairy industry argue for some kind of government support to support local dairy farmers.
While Boehner has long opposed “Soviet-style” price supports for dairy products, farmers support the Dairy Security Act -- pushed by Collin Peterson, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee -- which insures producers’ profit margins if they agree to cut milk output if prices fall below a particular level, according to Reuters.
Despite opposition from liberals and conservatives alike to the food stamp program cuts in the bill, lawmakers in the House and Senate expect the bill to pass easily, the Post reported.