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March 08, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
March 08, 2002

Congress' two lead farm bill negotiators set a formal meeting for conference committee members Wednesday, March 13, and noted that reconciling House and Senate farm bill versions remains within reach for the 2002 crop year.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) noted that staff members have been working long days preparing and combing through side-by-side comparisons of fundamental approaches to the House and Senate farm bills. This joint review has made progress toward consolidating issues from the bills prior to conference committee members' first formal meeting.

"I am convinced we can and must work to have an agreement within reach for the 2002 crop year -- and for producers, the need grows more critical each day," said Combest, who will serve as Conference Chairman. "There are clear differences between the two farm bill versions, but House and Senate conferees are joined in the commitment to do the work needed to produce a good bill."

"Rural America is depending on the success of this farm bill, and I am committed to moving forward to get this conference committee completed as soon as possible," said Harkin. "I am pleased that the House and Senate staff have been able to make good progress in organizing this bill and preparing it for the conferees. I am eagerly anticipating the first meeting of farm bill conferees next week, and I hope we can have an open minded discussion on all the differences between the two bills."

This meeting of conferees begins at 4pm Eastern in Room HC-5 of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, March 13, 2002

On Thursday, the Speaker of the House named more committee members for representation on specific portions of the conference committee, reflecting issues addressed in the Senate farm bill that are outside the scope of the House Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction. House Committees on Budget, Education, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, International Relations, Judiciary, Resources, Science and Ways and Means will each have 3 representatives negotiating their areas of jurisdiction during only specific portions of the farm bill. Also, House Administration, Transportation and Small Business Committees will submit their positions in writing.

The core members of the conference are drawn from the agriculture committees of both House and Senate and were appointed earlier.

House Conferees:

Republicans: Larry Combest (Texas), John Boehner (Ohio), Bob Goodlatte (Va.), Richard Pombo (Calif.), Terry Everett (Ala.), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), and Jerry Moran (KS)

Democrats: Charlie Stenholm (Texas), Gary Condit (Calif.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Cal Dooley (Calif.), Eva Clayton (N.C.) and Tim Holden (Pa.).

Senate Conferees:

Democrats: Tom Harkin (Iowa), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Tom Daschle (S.D.).

Republicans: Dick Lugar (Ind.), Jesse Helms (N.C.) and Thad Cochran (Miss.).

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