The top four leaders negotiating a new farm bill have reached agreement, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said Monday.
The Michigan Democrat told reporters that signatures still needed to be gathered from conferees before filing the report. Once that happens, the House Rules Committee is expected to meet to get the conference report set for House floor consideration no later than Wednesday.
"We do have an agreement with the four of us and we're in the process of getting signatures right now," Stabenow said. "That process is ongoing, so it's a question of just how long it takes to do that."
"I'm confident we will have a majority of the conferees, and you know, we had strong bipartisan support," Stabenow added, saying that the agreement on dairy programs was the final piece of the puzzle.
"We haven't slept for a while ... running on caffeine and adrenaline at the moment," Stabenow replied to a question about how the dairy language came together. "I'm very pleased to say we have brought everyone together. You know, the entire dairy community worked for three years to develop the dairy security act, which was embraced by all parts of agriculture, large and small, and we had the rug pulled out from under us two weeks ago."
Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., confirmed a meeting of House GOP conferees with House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., on Monday afternoon.
"The Republican members met with Chairman Lucas this afternoon at 1 p.m. and they were putting what we think will be the finishing touches on the bill. I don't want to get ahead of my chairman but everyone knows we were meeting so that's not a secret," Southerland said. "So, yeah, we think things are coming together."
"I think that if you look in this farm bill ... I think some of the reforms in this farm bill are fantastic, and I think if you change ... the culture in some of these programs, I think financial savings down the road are going to be wonderful to the taxpayers," Southerland said. "As far as, do you get all you want? Well, you rarely get all you want. But I think there's tremendous progress made with reforms in this farm bill."
"We basically had, you know, less than two weeks to go back and write new dairy policy," Stabenow said. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, vehemently opposed earlier dairy language.
"We believe the speaker is satisfied with the dairy [provision]," Southerland said.
Emma Dumain contributed to this report.