Peterson says farm bill deal is close; January vote possible

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Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson says negotiators are close to an agreement on a new farm bill.

Peterson tells the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead a compromise agreement between House and Senate conferees may be ready by the time the House adjourns for its holiday recess on Friday. He says that could allow for a vote on the long-delayed measure in January.

The biggest sticking point between the chambers has been how much to cut the nation's food stamp program. Peterson tells the Forum the deal now on the table is closer to the Senate's $4 billion in cuts than to the House's $40 billion.

Agweek reports House agriculture committee chairman Frank Lucas, a Republican from Oklahoma, said having a conference committee report ready by Friday would be a Herculean achievement. Lucas adds that if lawmakers know a finished product will be on the floor for a vote in early January, all parties involved will be reassured.

There's been speculation about a temporary extension of existing commodity programs, particularly for dairy. Current subsidies are set to expire on Jan. 1, which could send the cost of a gallon of milk much higher. The Associated Press reports there's some optimism on Capitol Hill that a deal might be reached before those subsidies expire, but House Speaker John Boehner says Congress should be ready to pass a one-month extension.

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