House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D - Minn., met for the fifth time since Christmas with acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner on crafting compromise farm bill legislation. In November Peterson was confident that if the Senate passed a bill, an agreement could be struck with the White House. He says it's going to be tougher than he thought.
"The Administration is much more opposed to the Senate bill than the House bill because of the way it's financed," Peterson says.
Another major point of contention between the Congress and the White House is payment limits.
"The payment limit thing is a lot bigger deal with them than I think that people realize," Peterson says. "They want to go considerably lower than either the House or the Senate went, which causes trouble with the Southerners. So we're plugging away, but we are a long ways apart, and if anyone thinks this is going to be easy, they're kidding themselves."
The House returns on Jan. 15 with the Senate back in session on Jan. 22. Conference committee members who will put together the final bill have not yet been decided.