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FARM BILL EXTENSION?

In an interview broadcast on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers program on Sunday ( http://cs.pn/18A74GG ), Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called for a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires on Sept. 30. Heritage Action played a key role in defeating the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the Farm Bill in June, and it persuaded House leaders to separate the nutrition title, which funds food stamps, from a farm-only Farm Bill that later passed in July (see FCN July 12, 2013, Page 11).“We’d love to have a one-year extension on the Farm Bill,” Needham said in the C-SPAN interview. He said the extension could give Heritage Action the chance to meet with Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) to redesign both farm programs and food stamps.“For three years we have been trying to meet with Frank Lucas and talk to the House Agriculture Committee about what would a modern 21st century Farm Bill look like, and we’d love to have that opportunity over the course of the next year to do that,” Needham said, adding:“The disappointing thing about the Farm Bill is that House Republicans basically said that we’re going to split this bill. We’re going to say, ‘You know what, we’re not interested right now in food stamps, in welfare for the poor and the needy, but we’re also such a corporatist party that we won’t get rid of the corporate welfare in the Farm Bill. And that’s a pretty dicey political position to be in.” Needham acknowledged that “probably what’s likely to happen” is that the House and Senate will adopt the Senate’s food stamp provisions in conference as a result of splitting the Farm Bill.

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