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House, Senate Leaders Wrapping up Farm Bill Work

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - House and Senate agriculture leaders Monday were wrapping up a deal on a massive farm bill that has been more than two years in the making.

The bill will cost more than $900 billion over 10 years for farm programs and food stamps. The House plans to vote on the bill Wednesday morning, with the Senate to follow.

Among the provisions included in the legislation are:

• A plan that will raise target prices for grains with payments made on base acres.

• A new dairy program without a supply management provision.

• No changes to country-of-origin labeling for red meat or to the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., planned to release the bill later today.

Before a floor vote can take place, a majority of conferees in the House and Senate have to sign it. The leaders decided not to hold a final public meeting to deal with contentious issues.

The commodity title provisions are basically those in the House-passed version of the bill, except that payments will be made on 86 percent of base acres rather than acres in current production. That means a combination of the Average Crop Revenue program known as ARC favored by the Senate and the Price Loss Coverage favored by the House, with the higher target prices in the House bill.

The nutrition title will cut about $8 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps. The bill will also forbid food stamps for lottery winners and restrict food stamps for college students, issues championed by Stabenow. A work requirement pilot project is also included, providing states about $200 million to start these programs.

The bill also increases funding for food banks by $205 million.