?The Agriculture Committee leadership of both the House and the Senate announced last week that they will move the Farm Bill through their committees. Senate and House leaders have also promised to give the bill floor time by this summer, representing a key shift in posture in the House.

Senate Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) released her draft bill, which would restore mandatory funding for NACo priorities in the Rural Development Title ($115 million), Energy Title ($800 million) and Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development ($85 million). The draft bill released last week in the House includes weaker funding levels for the Rural Development Title ($50 million) and no mandatory funding for the Energy Title. Beginning Farmer/Rancher Development would receive $100 million in mandatory funding.

The draft bills that the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders have released include many of the same provisions that were included in last year’s House Committee-passed and Senate-passed bills, respectively.  It is expected that both Committees will vote to pass the bill out of committee, at which time each bill will head to the floor of its respective chamber for further debate.

Given the expected schedule, there may be enough time for the two chambers to negotiate a compromise and pass a final bill by September 30, when the current Farm bill extension expires. There are many challenges to meeting that deadline, but two important steps in the process will happen this week when the Agriculture Committees debate their bills.

For more information about the Farm Bill, contact Erik Johnston at ejohnston@naco.org or at (202) 942-4230.  Or see NACo’s policy brief at:

http://www.naco.org/legislation/policies/Documents/Agriculture%20and%20Rural%20Affairs/Farm%20Bill%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf