Farm Bill Getting Attention After Government Shutdown - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Farm Bill Getting Attention After Government Shutdown

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BOZEMAN -

Now that the government shutdown is over, many lawmakers are turning their attention to the farm bill.

The bill will go into conference next week, after both chambers passed their own versions of the bill.

The nation's farmers are currently working without a farm bill after the last farm bill expired September 30.

The house and senate each passed their own versions of the bill this summer...forcing the bill into conference.

There are some things Montana Farm Bureau president Bob Hanson said Montana ranchers need.

"We are somewhat pleased about in Montana is the livestock part of the bill," said Hanson.

Both versions of the bill had some sort of livestock assistance, the Senate made it permanent while the House reinstated previous programs that had expired in 2011.

Senator Max Baucus sits on the conference committee in charge of combining the two versions of the bill.

He said he will fight for permanent livestock assistance.

"It has to be permanent, not temporary as it has been, but permanent," said Baucus.  "South Dakota disaster is a good example of how Mother Nature can sometimes turn and an American can lose a lot of livestock."

South Dakota ranchers lost about 100,000 cattle in an early season blizzard earlier this month.

Hanson said the biggest difference in the House and Senate versions, and the part that most of the nation is watching, is the food and nutrition section of the farm bill.

"The food assistance will be more whether or not the president sign it or not," said Hanson.  "That's the bigger key issue."

Baucus said the farm bill will make cuts to the SNAP program, or food stamps.

He said it won't get completely cut from the bill, like the House version calls for.

"There's virtually no support, very little support from cites and big urban states," said Baucus.  "The only reason they support the farm bill now is because the SNAP program is part of it."

Baucus said currently 129,000 Montanans are on food stamps.

Baucus expects the farm bill to reach the president's desk by the end of the year.

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