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June 14, 2018 06:19 AM

Farm Bill Moving Forward, Passes Agriculture Committee

A Senate committee passed its 2018 Farm Bill on a 20 to 1 vote. 

The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, but lawmakers are gearing up for a fight in the House. 
KELOLAND's Washington Correspondent Jessica Smith reports. 

Senator Pat Roberts says the Senate Farm Bill gives much-needed certainty to farmers and ranchers. 

"Who today are in difficult, and too many in desperate times," Roberts said. 

Roberts and Senator Debbie Stabenow led the effort to craft the bipartisan bill. 

It renews farm safety-net programs -- and aims to fight the opioid crisis and help veterans get started in agriculture.  

"We've also been able to strengthen local food systems, farmers markets, smaller farms...organic production," Stabenow said.  

The bill also includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's legislation to legalize hemp farming.

"This is not the other plant. Younger farmers in my state are particularly interested in going in this direction," McConnell said. 

The Senate bill keeps current work requirements for the SNAP program -- but does not include controversial new requirements the House bill proposed. 

"On the House side it's not based in facts. There is a lot of politics, but in reality -- current law has work requirements. What we want to do is create opportunity for people to be able to work full-time and take care of their families," Stabenow said. 

The House has not yet passed its bill.

"That bill is different. It will be a totally partisan bill. I think that's very unfortunate," Roberts said. 

But the House and Senate will eventually have to agree on a final product. 

Senator Heidi Heitkamp urged the Ag committee to stick together throughout the process. 

"There are going to be attempts to change the foundation of the crop insurance program. I hope we come out united," Heitkamp said. 

McConnell says the full Senate should take up the bill before the Fourth of July. 

Senator John Thune tweeted his support of the Farm Bill, saying the legislation has quite a few benefits for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota.


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