The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Ag committee leaders break for votes

After meeting for approximately an hour today on the farm bill, the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate agriculture committees have taken a break for votes.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who is chairing the conference, House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., did not speak to reporters as they left.

But in a sign of the seriousness of the meeting, the four leaders had thrown all staff out of the room. When trying to finalize policies, members of Congress often wish to meet alone because aides who have been working on issues for many years have strong views on issues on which compromises must be reached to move legislation forward.

Peterson did tell reporters that:
  • The discussions are “complicated.”
  • They have discussed nutrition.
  • He has told “the Canadians” that the bill will not change country-of-origin labeling for red meat.
  • “There’s a lot of support for dairy” in the talks.
  • The commodity title and the nutrition title are the biggest issues.
  • All titles of the bill are still open.

Aides said that the farm bill conference meeting is likely to resume at 1 p.m., but that the schedule could change.