Senate names negotiators for U.S. farm bill stuck in House

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 2, 2013 12:09pm EDT

WASHINGTON Aug 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate has appointed its negotiators for writing a final farm bill, weeks before the House of Representatives aims to complete its version, which has been repeatedly delayed by a fight over how much to cut funding for food stamps.

Congress is 10 months overdue to enact a new farm law, which covers crop subsidies, rural economic development, biofuels, agricultural research and global aid, as well as food stamps.

Twelve senior members of the Senate Agriculture Committee were named as farm bill conferees late on Thursday, ahead of a five-week Congressional recess.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said no decision had been made on appointing House conferees.

House Republicans are expected to ask for $40 billion in food stamp cuts when lawmakers resume work in September, compared to $4 billion proposed by the Senate.

Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Republican leader on the Senate committee, said reconciling the House and Senate bills "will be a challenge but it needs to be done for an important sector of the American and global economy."

The Senate conferees are chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Cochran; Democrats Pat Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republicans Pat Roberts of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Boozman of Arkansas and John Hoeven of North Dakota.

While the Senate passed farm bills in 2012 and this year, the House failed to act in 2012 and on June 20 defeated, for the first time ever, a farm bill because conservatives wanted deeper cuts in food stamps than the $20 billion that was proposed. (Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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