Farmers head into their Thanksgiving meals this week with a lot of uncertainty. So do low-income families who rely on federal food assistance. Both groups could see big changes from a new Farm Bill that is stalled right now in Congress.
Negotiations between the House and Senate have gone on for weeks, and some key sticking points remain. The lead negotiators had hoped to reach a deal before the Thanksgiving break.
Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson says he's still hopeful House and Senate leaders can put a farm bill up for a vote before the end of the year.
Peterson said if both chambers work until Dec. 20 they could get a deal, but without a farm bill, food prices could eventually rise.
"What people don't understand is that the little bit of money that we spend on agriculture, in my opinion, is the best money we spend in this country because we get the cheapest food of any place in the world for a little bit of money," he told MPR's Cathy Wurzer. "If we cut out that little bit of money, we could potentially double the price of food."
But even if leaders are able to work out a deal, Peterson says he still has doubts about whether it could pass both the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-controlled House.
Sticking points include cuts to food stamps and conservation as well as direct payments to farmers.
Peterson, who is the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, says the negotiations have been frustrating and says the public is tuned out.