While the agricultural sector waits for Congress to approve a new farm bill, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will kick off his Farm Bill Jobs Tour this week.
Baucus, the main architect of the Senate’s farm bill, was appointed to serve on the farm bill’s joint conference committee in August. He is one of 12 members tasked with combining the Senate and House versions of the farm bill.
Baucus’ jobs tour will include roundtable discussions with producers and agricultural business owners across Montana that are designed to guide his work in passing the farm bill.
“I’m looking forward to getting this important job done because one in five Montana jobs depends on agriculture,” Baucus said. “There’s a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about creating jobs and cutting debt – the Farm Bill is our jobs bill in Montana and we cannot afford any more delays. I’m looking forward to hearing from Montanans next week and making sure their voices are heard as we work to finalize the Farm Bill.”
A farm bill has not been passed since 2008, and the current extension of that bill expired at the end of September. If a new farm bill is not passed, the existing farm bill could be extended again, though the farm bureau does not support the option, saying current working versions of the House and Senate farm bills contain cost-saving provisions that would not be included in an extension, USA Today reports.
The $500 billion farm bill has been stuck in Congress over debate related to food stamps. The House version has endorsed up to $4 billion in annual cuts to the food stamp program, while the Senate bill would cut $400 million each year. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the House bill.
After federal financing for food stamp benefits runs out at the end of the month, the average family of four will see benefits decline by five percent on average from $668 to $632, according to USA Today.