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Ag chair says she's open to more food stamp cuts

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm •  Published: December 5, 2012

Marrying the farm bill with the fiscal cliff negotiations is the farm bill's best hope of passage this year. The last farm bill, passed in 2008, expired in September, and if the agriculture committees have to start over next year they may have less money to deal with.

A deal on the fiscal cliff is far from set, however, and the farm leaders must wait for the White House and Republicans in Congress to agree on larger details before they know if farm policy will be involved. The agriculture committees must also resolve significant differences in how farm subsidies would be cut.

Stabenow said it is important for the agriculture committees to agree on a bipartisan policy "in a way that works for agriculture" before others start making decisions.

"They have to decide on the size of a larger package before they come to us," she said. "But we'll be ready."

Lucas said last week that Republican House leaders are now "consumed by the overall picture" and have not yet clarified how they want to proceed on agriculture policy. House leaders have so far been lukewarm on a farm bill, saying it doesn't have enough votes to go to the House floor. The main source of friction has been food stamps, as some conservatives said the bill needs to make deeper cuts in that program.