Missouri, Arkansas leaders dig into federal farm bill talks

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Right now, Congress is hoping to move forward with the farm bill, which sets food policies and lays out resources for farmers. But they’re up against a tight deadline to reach an agreement. Our Washington Reporter Alana Austin reports on how that’s impacting Missourians and Arkansans.

The five-year farm bill lays the ground-work for producers and consumers across the nation. States like Missouri and Arkansas are rich with farmers, so those communities are directly impacted by these big-picture discussions.

Dozens of lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate got together today for the first farm bill conference meeting. Both sides have approved farm bills but now they need to work out differences between the two versions.

Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler tells me protecting farmer safety net programs, like crop insurance, are a top priority. She’s also fighting to see more federal funding to accelerate rural broadband.

“We’re seeing a bigger divide between the rural and urban settings, and that’s just not right," said Hartzler.

Lawmakers hope to send the farm bill to the President’s desk this month, so the current one doesn’t run out.

Arkansas Senator John Boozman says farmers need certainty for the future after a tough set of years.

“We have the cheapest, safest food supply of any nation in the world. We want to maintain that and so, it’s really important that we get this done in a timely fashion," said Boozman.

The sticking point could be over food stamps. House Republicans have been pushing for more work or training requirements for those receiving that benefit. But Senate Republicans have been reluctant to go as far as the GOP on the House side, and Democrats have largely argued against such reforms.

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