August 2, 2018
The 2014 Farm Bill expires in two months. Both the House and Senate have passed their respective versions of a new farm bill, and will now begin the process of formally negotiating the two bills with the goal of finalizing a 2018 farm bill before the 2014 bill expires. For an overview of the major issues at stake for sustainable agriculture in the 2018 Farm bill debate, check out our farm bill conference guide in a previous post.
On Wednesday, August 1, the Senate named its farm bill “conferees,” those who will vote to adopt the final negotiated bill. The House named its conferees last month. See below for the full list of members of the conference committee. In addition to the members who will be negotiating the bulk of the farm bill (all of whom sit on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees), the conference committee also includes members of the House (most of whom do not sit on the Agriculture Committee) who will only be formally negotiating provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of committees other than the Agriculture Committee. We indicate where that is the case in the list below.
Senate Conferees to Farm Bill Conference Committee
House Conferees to Farm Bill Conference Committee
Additional House conferees:
Any Member of Congress and any Agriculture Committee member can weigh in with the lead negotiators — the chairs and ranking members of the Agriculture Committees — at any time; however, only conferees will vote to report the negotiated bill to the full House and Senate. A majority of each of the House and Senate conferees must vote for the final bill in order for it to go to the full Congress.
The chairs and ranking members of the Agriculture Committees have already begun negotiating the difference between the two bills, and those conversations will continue throughout August while the House but not the Senate is on summer recess. It is not yet clear when and with what frequency the full conference committee will meet, but it is quite possible that it will meet formally only once or twice before the current farm bill expires on September 30.
Historically, the farm bill conference process included frequent public meetings of the conference committee with robust debate and negotiation between the members. However, the conference that led up to the 2014 Farm Bill was less transparent, with only pro forma meetings of the conference committee and nearly all of the negotiating happening behind closed doors. Given the limited time between now and the expiration of the current farm bill, it is quite possible that this conference will be more similar to the last than to previous farm bill cycles.
Visit our previous post to learn more about the House and Senate farm bills, and the positions that the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is advocating for in conference.