On Tuesday (July 9), several veteran, D.C.-based lobbyists and former Capitol Hill staffers told Farm Press that decoupling the titles was a bad idea in the long-term.

“Some of the Republicans want to take the Nutrition Title out and also repeal some of the permanent law provisions in the 1949 Act,” said one. “That way if the farm bill expires (in September) there won’t be the threat of more expensive programs under permanent law kicking in.

“Now, whether they can get the votes to do all that, I don’t know. And they don’t know either – that’s what the Republicans are trying to figure out.”

Even if a Nutrition Title-less farm bill passes the House, he said, “I can’t imagine the Senate agreeing to a farm bill agreeing to that. At the same time, I can’t imagine the House agreeing to only $4 billion in nutrition program savings” that the Senate farm bill calls for.

“The frustrating thing is the House farm bill that failed took $40 billion out of the nutrition programs. Republicans who voted against the bill couldn’t accept victory. I don’t get it…

“Taking nutrition out of farm bill is bad for the longtime coalition that passes farm legislation. And once they’re split it’s over because it’ll get so ugly – it’ll polarize everyone even more.”

In the short-term, said another lobbyist, the House could pass a farm bill without a Nutrition Title. “But the great unknown is if you bring it back from the conference and the Senate insists on it including the Nutrition Title, which I think is a given, can it pass the House then?”

What’s really interesting, both said, is the lack of enforcement by House leadership. “When I worked there -- and the Democrats were in charge then -- if leadership brought a farm bill to the floor, Democrats were expected to support it. That’s especially true of the committee chairmen. There never would have been six committee chairmen taking a hike or cutting the legs out from under the Speaker -- but that’s what happened with this latest farm bill vote. Part of the burden of being a leader is sometimes you have to vote for stuff you don’t want to.”