MANKATO — Minnesota is poised to have a big impact on the federal Farm Bill debate this week with the addition of lawmakers Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson and Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the conference committee.
The most important issues for area residents are:
■ Food stamps: The level of cuts for funding for the food stamp programs has been the most divisive topic. The Republican-controlled U.S. House is demanding $40 billion in cuts while the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate is only seeking $4 billion in cuts.
Walz, a Mankato Democrat, is willing to increase the cuts but opposes the $40 billion level. Klobuchar opposes high cuts and seeks to keep close to the $4 billion level. Peterson, whose district includes Sibley County, voted against the $40 billion level but is leading negotiations as the ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee.
■ Direct payments: Congress sought to end direct payments to farmers in a failed Farm Bill last spring. All three lawmakers support ending the payments.
■ Crop insurance: Farmers have been anxiously waiting for details on the federal crop insurance program to help with plans for next year. All three lawmakers have urged finalizing this portion to help area farmers.