Conaway offers sneak peek on farm bill

With Catherine Boudreau, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Maya Parthasarathy and Christine Haughney

CONAWAY’S SNEAK PEEK ON FARM BILL: House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is ready to move full steam ahead on the farm bill in the new year — and he’s not sweating the idea that a welfare overhaul push could make things complicated.

In an exclusive interview with POLITICO Pro, the Texas Republican was upbeat about keeping the sweeping legislation on track and has plans to secure time for a floor vote by March. The committee has already sent a working draft of the bill to the Congressional Budget Office. Conaway envisions having the whole process wrapped up before a push for welfare overhaul gains momentum on Capitol Hill.

“I think we’ll be done and across the floor before that train leaves the station,” Conaway told Pro Ag’s Catherine Boudreau and Helena Bottemiller Evich during an interview in his Rayburn office, which brims with all things Texas, including a large rug of the Lone Star state flag (made of “Texas wool!”).

Farm bill expectations: The committee has kept a tight lid on the draft of the bill, but Conaway did share some insights into what to expect. Here’s a quick rundown:

— Cotton and dairy: Conaway reiterated that changes need to be made in Title 1 to address the concerns of the cotton and dairy industries. “I don’t anticipate … significant changes to Title 1,” Conaway said. “There will be changes within the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs; of course we want cotton growers to be eligible for those programs. We’re also looking at data issues with respect to ARC.”

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