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Thompson Farm Bill Success Could Pressure Senate Ag

House Ag Chair G.T. Thompson’s push to move a farm bill next month, if successful, could help jump-start long-stalled Senate committee action. But there are still doubts. Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley is still pessimistic about chances for a new farm bill this year.

But if House Ag Chair Thompson gets bipartisan agreement in his panel on a way to fund farm safety net improvements, Grassley says that could break the logjam in Senate Ag. Grassley says, “Yeah, if it was something that, I suppose in this case, it’d be something that Republicans could agree to with the funding, and I assume if Thompson came up with something that House Republicans agreed to, it’d probably look pretty good to us.”

But Grassley still predicts Congress won’t pass a new farm bill until next year, though he hopes otherwise. Grassley says, “What’s going on in the House is very unpredictable, so I wouldn’t want to make a speculation on what the House can do. But I would hope the House would pass a farm bill.”

But Secretary Tom Vilsack told top GOP Senate Ag appropriator John Hoeven (R-ND) that doesn’t guarantee agreement on his plan to boost support for higher crop insurance levels. Vilsack says, “There’s a conflicting set of messages coming out of this Capitol on crop insurance. I think we need, perhaps, some consistency in the approach here would be helpful.” Hoeven: “Well, we prefer our approach.” Vilsack “I’m sure you do, but there are 166 members of the House Republican caucus that feel that crop insurance should be cut.”

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye/Berns Bureau Washington

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