Farm bill passes, set­ting up clash over food stamps

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASHINGTON » The Se­nate on Thursday passed a bill that makes mod­est mod­i­fi­ca­tions to ex­ist­ing farm pro­grams while largely avoid­ing changes to food stamps, set­ting up a showdown with the House.

The bill passed 86-11. The leg­is­la­tion re­news farm pro­grams such as crop in­sur­ance and land con­ser­va­tion. Farm pro­grams are set to ex­pire Sept. 30 un­less Congress acts.

Work on the leg­is­la­tion comes at a time when farm­ers are fac­ing low prices and a po­ten­tial trade war that could de­press com­modi­ties prices fur­ther.

“We are one step closer to pro­vid­ing farm­ers and ranch­ers a Farm Bill with the cer­tainty and pre­dictabil­ity they de­serve,” said Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

GOP aides said the farm bill is ex­pected to go to con­fer­ence, where Se­nate and House lead­er­ship will try to rec­on­cile their dif­fer­ences. On the food stamp front, the two sides are likely to clash.

The House bill tight­ens work re­quire­ments for re­cip­i­ents of the Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram. Cur­rently, able-bod­ied adults ages 18- 49 with­out chil­dren are re­quired to work 20 hours a week to main­tain their ben­e­fits. The bill raises the top age of re­cip­i­ents sub­ject to work re­quire­ments from 49 to 59 and re­quires par­ents with chil­dren older than 6 to work or par­tic­i­pate in job train­ing.

Gov­ern­ment au­di­tors es­ti­mate that in 10 years, the SNAP caseload would shrink by about 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple in an av­er­age month if the bill be­comes law.

ANDREW HARNIK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the farm bill gives farm­ers and ranch­ers the “cer­tainty and pre­dictabil­ity they de­serve.”

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