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STATUS OF 2018 FARM BILL: STALLED BECAUSE OF PROPOSED SNAP REQUIREMENTS
POLITICO reports:

House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson said Tuesday that he shared additional details (though not the text) of proposed changes to the food stamp program in the farm bill with committee Democrats, but that they remain unanimously opposed to Republicans' "extreme, partisan" policies, Pro Ag's Catherine Boudreau reports.

"This opposition will not change," Peterson said in a statement, indicating that a bipartisan farm bill likely isn't feasible unless Chairman Mike Conaway walks back proposals to tighten eligibility and impose stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Democrats want details: The announcement follows a letter Peterson received last week from 19 committee Democrats demanding that he stop negotiating with Conaway over SNAP until they could see the text of the farm bill. They complained they had not seen the contents of any of the chapters - let alone the nutrition title - forcing them to rely on news reports to see what was being discussed.

They also criticized how the talks had taken place in secrecy. Peterson pledged to heed their request, and farm bill talks have since remained deadlocked.

Conaway told reporters Tuesday that he is still trying to figure out how to move forward with Democrats, though no meetings are scheduled for this week.

"The plan has always been that once the ranking member and chairman sign off on the language, then [the farm bill] is released," he said. "I can't get my ranking member to sign off on the language. [Peterson] got a letter from his members saying he can't. I'm in a bad circle trying to get this done. So we're still trying to figure out how we get past this impasse."

Senate outlook: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) suggested that the House side would have to come to terms if they wanted to get anything to fly in the Senate.
"I don't think it has any chance of getting through the Senate if it isn't bipartisan," Grassley said of the House bill during a call with reporters Tuesday morning. "Consequentially, we'll write our own bill and it'll be a bipartisan bill."

Grassley met recently with Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts to discuss what he'd like to see in the Senate version. "The staff is starting to draft a farm bill, and he told me he hopes to start the process after the Easter recess," the Iowa Republican said of Roberts.


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