How might they resolve the SNAP funding disparity between the House and Senate farm bills?

“We’ve been whipping a lot of the House members who voted for those extremely draconian SNAP cuts of $39 billion. We’ve been pointing out, ‘you do realize the conference report is not going to come back even close to that number?’

“I think most of the members are aware of that. What will come into play when that smaller number comes back from conference is: will they go ahead and vote for it since SNAP will be reauthorized in three years instead of five? That’s the leverage that will be used in order to get more House members to vote for it.

“Of course, that would just cause another major political battle in three years when the largest portion of the farm bill will be up for reauthorization.

“I am confident we’ll get a new farm bill this year, though. I’m just not sure if it’ll be part of this major debt negotiation or afterwards. I haven’t given up hope yet.”

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What about the way the House went about getting their farm bill passed by splitting the farm and nutrition programs? (Minnesota Rep.) Collin Peterson (House Agriculture Committee ranking member) keeps saying that farmers should understand that House action is a forecast of future attempts by Republicans to do away with farm programs. Is that a valid concern for farmers?

“Most definitely. I couldn’t agree with (Peterson) more.

“Splitting that coalition is a clear sign of the objectives of the Tea Party and the Heritage Foundation. Their long-term goal has been to completely get rid of all farm safety nets and dismantle our nutrition and consumer safety nets.

“They succeeded in driving a wedge between this historic coalition that has passed farm bills for decades. Those who produce food should be extremely concerned about what this means down the road.”

On the blizzard in the Northwest…

“There’s definitely a lot of panic. (The South Dakota NFU president) says the level of stress in the state is off the charts. The number of cattle lost is stunning. And these were fat cattle, ready to go to market.

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“He’s concerned that the stress level is so high – especially in South Dakota, parts of North Dakota, and a bit of western Nebraska and Wyoming -- that farm crisis managers need to be brought in. There are a bunch of ranchers that could go out of business. There isn’t a livestock indemnity program available. For those who still have livestock, there’s not a livestock forage program available.

“Consider that there’s not even anyone in government to help them properly take in and calculate the number of dead animals. Everything is shut down.”