By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) from Ohio named U.S. Representatives Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery and Mike Rogers (R) from Saks to serve on the conference committee charged with negotiating a final agreement with the Senate on the Farm Bill.
Congresswoman Roby said in a written statement, “For almost three years we’ve been working on a new Farm Bill that would meet this country’s agricultural and economic needs while enacting long-needed reforms to farm and food stamp policy. I’m pleased that the process is moving forward. Not passing a Farm Bill is simply unacceptable, and though the House and Senate versions are very different, I’m hopeful we can find common ground.”
Alabama Farmer’s Federation President Jimmy Parnell said, “We are proud to have two members of Alabama’s congressional delegation serving on this important committee. Representatives Rogers and Roby are strong supporters of Alabama agriculture. They understand the urgent need to pass a farm bill so farmers can make planting and financial decisions. We appreciate their work to provide long-term stability for farmers in a way that’s fiscally responsible.”
Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed their own versions of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, commonly known as the Farm Bill. For a bill to actually go to the President for his signature the two bodies of Congress will have to compromise. Finding a bipartisan compromise is the job of the conference committee composed of lawmakers from both bodies. Rep. Roby, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture along with Rep. Rogers, said she was honored to be chosen for the task.
Rep. Roby said, “Agriculture is Alabama’s top industry, and I understand the need to pass a long-term Farm Bill to provide our farmers the certainty they deserve. However, we must ensure the bill contains the kind of reforms that shows Congress is serious about changing the culture of spending and government dependence.”
Alabama Farmer’s Federation President Jimmy Parnell said that having two Members of Congress from Alabama serving on the Farm Bill conference committee gives the state a significant voice in ensuring strong farm policy. Parnell said the announcement is good news for the state’s $70 billion a year agriculture industry.
For years the Farm Bill has combined expensive entitlement programs for the poor, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP formerly food stamps) with the nation’s farm programs in one bill. In June the Senate passed its version of the farm bill with the controversial nutrition spending. The House later passed its version, which separated the farm programs from nutrition spending after fiscal hawks in the House joined with Democrats to kill the earlier House version of the Farm Bill.
According to a release from ALFA, other Republican conferees from the House Agriculture Committee include:
Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa; Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Glenn Thompson, R-Pa.; Austin Scott, R-Ga.; Rick Crawford, R-Ark.; Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Jeff Denham, R-Calif.; and Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., will serve as a leadership conferee.
The Republican conferees from the House Foreign Affairs Committee are Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.
Republican conferees from the House Ways and Means Committee are Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.
The Democratic conferees from the House Agriculture Committee are: Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Reps. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.; Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.; Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif.; and Filemon Vela, D-Texas. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, will serve as a leadership conferee.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sandy Levin, D-Mich., were also named conferees.
The Senate conferees were appointed in August. They are: Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; and Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Pat Roberts, R-Kan.