WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the farm bill (all times local):
The House has voted decisively to leave the government's much-criticized sugar program alone.
Thursday's 278-137 vote gave the nation's powerful sugar lobby an easier-than-expected victory over food processors, soft drink manufacturers and candy makers who complain that the sugar program drives up prices and gouges consumers.
The sugar program, a web of price supports, loans and tariffs, was one of the key battles in this year's farm bill, a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.
GOP leaders are promoting this year's renewal of the farm and food bill as tightening work and job training requirements for food stamps.
The sugar program is part of an amalgam of commodity support programs that have sweeping backing in Republican-leaning farm country.
A key House Republican says conservative hardliners hoping to force progress on unrelated immigration issues are lining up to block passage of a major overhaul of farm subsidies and federal nutrition programs.
Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina is chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and says enough of his members are withholding support for the farm bill to block passage in a vote slated for Friday.
The farm bill is a priority for House GOP leaders, who are eager to showcase the farm bill's tougher work and job training requirements for food stamp recipients.
Meadows says that "the time is now" to deal with immigration and that the farm bill doesn't face a pressing deadline. He says farmers "want us to deal with immigration and the farm bill both."
Food processors, soft drink manufacturers and candy makers are squaring off against the U.S. sugar industry in a familiar battle over a program that props up sugar prices.
The battle over the sugar program, a web of price supports, loans and tariffs that critics say gouges consumers, is one of the key battles in this year's farm bill, a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.
GOP leaders are promoting this year's renewal of the measure as tightening work and job training requirements for food stamps. But the food stamp proposal has driven Democrats away from the bill, which means Republicans must pass the measure with minimal GOP defections. That puts pressure on past Republican critics of costly farm subsidies to vote for them.