It appears some business is being done on Capitol Hill. Over the weekend Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, moved ahead to name the House members of the conference committee that will work with the Senate members to hammer out a new farm bill.
The House farm bill committee includes Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and chair of the House Agriculture Committee along with five subcommittee chairs - Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Rick Crawford, R-Ark.; Steve King, R-Iowa; Austin Scott, R-Ga.; and Glenn Thompson, R-Penn. Other Republicans on the roster include Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Jeff Denham, R-Calif.; and Steve Southerland, R-Fla.
The Democrat side of the aisle will be represented by Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.; Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.; Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif.; and Filemon Vela, D-Texas.
Other farm bill conferees from other committees include the following:
From the House Foreign Affairs Committee: Ed Royce, R-Calif.; Tom Marino, R-Penn.; and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
From the House Ways and Means Committee: Dave Camp, R-Mich.; Sam Johnson, R-Texas; and ranking member Sandy Levin, D-Mich.
The Senate appointed its conference committee recently, which includes the following: Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Michael Bennett, D-Colo.; Ranking Ag Committee member Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; and John Hoeven, R-N.D.
Feedstuffs also reported that on a voice vote Friday, the House urged negotiators to support a Senate-passed provision to trim crop insurance subsidies for wealthy farmers with an adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more.
The American Soybean Association issued a response to news of the conference committee with a comment from Danny Murphy, ASA President: "This has been a trying process, but we commend Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi for moving it along to the next stage. At this point, the necessary steps have been taken to bring all parties to the table and now it's time to set partisan divides aside and work together to craft a compromise that works for all farmers."
Murphy called on conferees to take into account recent input from ASA on a range of key issues: "ASA has given well-researched and well-documented feedback on multiple provisions in each chamber's bill."
Last week the conservative group - The Heritage Foundation - also weighed in on key provisions of the House and Senate versions of the farm bill noting their positions. This group is against re-merging the nutrition title with farm titles in the bill, but that has already been done by a vote in the House too.
The key challenge for the conferees is bridging some significant gaps between the versions - including a significant proposed cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Payments - $40 billion in the House measure and $4 billion in the Senate version. This is the most contentious part of the negotiations.
Given the financial crisis in Washington, D.C., at this time there's not timeline for this conference committee to start work, however this is solid news that the farm bill is moving forward.