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Agriculture, Energy and Regulations Recurring Topics at Ag Progress Days Event

During Penn State’s Annual Ag Progress Days event, U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, and Pa Department of Agriculture Secretary George Greig held a “Barnyard Discussion” where they touched on a variety of state and federal agriculture policy issues.

When asked about the delay in the Farm Bill, Thompson said they are “close” on an agreement. A version of the Farm Bill having been passed in both the House and Senate, allows for the creation of a conference committee that will hash out the differences between the bills.

While they may be close overall, big divides remain between the portion of the bill that deals directly with agriculture and energy funding needs and the more heavily contested portion of the bill that deals with the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or food stamps.  There are also divides between House and Senate versions on other programs including funding for programs in the Energy Title of the bills.

Congress had previously passed an extension to the existing Farm Bill, but long term solutions are crucial to all farming and food processing operations across the country. While there are limited Session days in September, Thompson said he expects a bill to be finalized this fall.

Other questions from the audience, which was primarily comprised of Pennsylvania farmers, ranged from the regulatory burdens placed on farmers to comply with changing EPA demands for Chesapeake Bay restoration to the loss of jobs, income and agribusiness opportunities if the state’s rural road, bridge and transportation problems are not addressed.