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SNAP, Farm Bill Hangs In Midterm Balance

President Donald J. Trump is seen in the reflection of his limousine window greeting supporters Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, as he arrives at Indianapolis International Airport, to address the Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Congress continues to grapple with a stalled and overdue farm bill, as the midterm elections draw closer.

One of the top sticking points is a proposal for heavier restrictions on food stamp recipients.

The Senate has already passed a version without those changes, saying the extra requirements are not politically workable.

But the House version includes $20 billion in cuts to SNAP benefits over the next decade.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cuts would mean 1.2 million low-income Americans would lose their benefits.

The House bill would also put stricter work requirements on about 7 million adults who would have to work at least 25 hours per week or spend the equivalent in job training to qualify.

In a recent address to the Future Farmers of America in Indianapolis, President Trump said Congress would wait until next year to vote on the farm bill, in hopes that Republicans would have more muscle after the election.

Leaders from the two chambers have to hammer out a version before passing it to the president.

Negotiators have indicated the farm bill would be a top priority in the next session after the election on November 13.

The midterm results could not only tip votes in farm bill negotiations, it could also shuffle the makeup of the House Agriculture committee, which has four seats opening up in 2019.

Agriculture groups are urging Congress to pass a bill by the end of the year, saying in a letter this week that farmers need clear rules in place so they can secure credit they need to plant crops and buy fuel and equipment for the next growing season.

The farm bill that passed in 2014 expired on September 30, though many provisions with expiration dates will remain in effect for the next few months.

Also on the chopping block are programs that pay farmers to improve environmental practices to boost soil and water health.

The Conservation Stewardship Program started in 2002, and covered about 72 million acres at the end of 2017. Both versions of the farm bill include significant cuts, though the House version would roll back much more of the program’s funding and rolls the remainder over into other programs.

The Senate farm bill has provisions that would help local farmers markets and supply chains, known as the Local Agriculture Market Program, or LAMP. The program would replace several local and rural ag development programs that expired in September.

But the House version does not include replacements for those programs.

Read More:

Trump: ‘We Don’t Have Enough Votes’ For Stricter SNAP Rules (Ag Insider)

Stalled Farm Bill Grabs Attention During Midterms, Expected On Front Burner When Congress Returns (CNBC)

A Change To Farm Bill Conservation Efforts Could Spell Disaster For The Corn Belt (Civil Eats)

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