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Roberts: Senate Agriculture Committee unified

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., believes that the committee is "largely unified" in its negotiating position with the House Agriculture Committee on the farm bill and that the meeting the committee held Thursday was a "good meeting," an aide said in an email late Thursday.

Negotiations on the bill appear to remain stalled early today, a key Congressional aide said.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Thursday that the committee had made its best offer, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said that the senators were not negotiating in good faith, partly because they had made statements to the news media.

Peterson said that one of the sticking points is a difference over how to handle target prices, according to a report in Congressional Quarterly on Thursday. The House Agriculture Committee-passed bill would raise target prices for all commodities, but Peterson said that the Senate agriculture leaders want to keep target prices at current levels except for peanuts, rice and wheat, according to the CQ report.

Peterson also said that the Senate leaders are insisting on the subsidy payment limitations that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, added to the Senate bill, but that Peterson said southerners find objectionable.

On the larger fiscal cliff negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, met with President Barack Obama at the White House late Thursday for 50 minutes. After the meeting, spokespersons for Obama and Boehner both said there were no new developments and that lines of communication remained open, but Boehner planned to return to Ohio for the weekend, the Washington Post reported.