3 state Democrats joined a panel that will try to resolve a food-stamp logjam. If no deal can be struck, policies on crop subsidies and conservation will revert to 1949 levels.
Three Minnesota lawmakers will have a seat at the table when House and Senate negotiators discuss a compromise on the long-delayed farm bill.
If Congress can’t reach a deal on the bill, which funds services from agricultural subsidies to conservation programs to food stamps, U.S. farm policy will reset to 1949 levels. The conference committee named Friday includes three Minnesota Democrats: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson and Tim Walz.
“We would like to get this done and get this done fast,” said Klobuchar, who announced her appointment during a tour of the Second Harvest Heartland service center in Golden Valley, surrounded by volunteers who were bagging potatoes for distribution to area food shelves.
Previous farm bill debates have broken down over the issue of food stamps. About 80 percent of the Senate bill funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The House, by contrast, slashed the food stamp budget by $40 billion, compared to the $4 billion in cuts the Senate proposed.
Hoping for a bipartisan spirit
The fact that a conference committee has been appointed, after months of gridlock and a government shutdown, means “we now have some good news for the first time in a long while,” Klobuchar said. Conferees could begin meeting as early as next week.
“The American public just got so angry” about the shutdown, Klobuchar said. The deal that reopened the government “was the beginning of a spirit of bipartisanship in the Senate that we’re going to need. ... What gives me hope is that the American people have had it, they’re getting mad at the people who are obstructing things.”
She was joined at the event by representatives of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union and Pheasants Forever at the Second Harvest event.
Helping people “is what Minnesota is all about, and this is what the farm bill is all about,” Klobuchar said.
Jennifer Brooks • 651-925-5049