With the current extension of the farm bill set to expire on September 30, the future of new farm legislation remains uncertain as Congress begins a five-week recess. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has announced that he will spend the recess drafting a stand-alone nutrition title using the framework developed by a group of House Republicans over the past month. The stand-alone measure would reduce nutrition spending by $40 billion over the next 10 years – almost double the level of cuts to the nutrition title proposed in the version of the farm bill (H.R. 1947) that collapsed on the House floor in June.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has indicated that leadership from both Senate and House Agriculture Committees will use the August recess to begin informal discussions to address similar provisions within each chamber’s bill (or bills) in hopes of orchestrating a successful conference that would help to fend off another farm bill extension. Just before Congress adjourned for the five-week recess, the following Senators were named as farm bill conferees: Sens. Stabenow and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Agriculture Committee; Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); and Republican Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). House leadership has not yet identified farm bill conferees.

The National Association of Counties, as part of the Campaign for Renewed Rural Development (CRRD), has sent a letter to both Senate and House Agriculture Committee leadership thanking them for their efforts thus far in moving a five-year reauthorization bill forward and urging support for the Senate’s funding levels within the Rural Development Title as Congress takes steps towards a farm bill conference. Specifically, the letter urges support of mandatory funding levels found in the Senate bill for the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program, Water/Wastewater Backlog and Value-Added Producer Grants.

For more information, please contact Arthur Scott with NACo at (202) 942.4230 or ascott@naco.org.