The full House of Representatives could take up the farm bill as early as next month, Rep. Kristi Noem said Thursday, one day after a lengthy markup of the legislation by a House panel.

The House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the farm bill by a 36-10 vote late Wednesday night, one day after its counterpart in the Senate did the same.

The full Senate is expected to begin proceeding toward a vote on its five-year, $500 billion farm bill next week.

Noem said GOP leadership has indicated action by the House could happen as soon as next month. She cautioned that a slew of amendments could drastically change the bill, which currently ends direct payments, consolidates conservation programs and cuts food stamps.

“I’m optimistic it will pass the House but we have challenges before us,” she said.

“South Dakota agriculture producers deserve the long-term certainty that comes with the passage of a five-year farm bill,” Noem added.

Even after the House and Senate pass the bill, the two chambers must gather to make one final farm bill. The largest divide between the two pieces of legislation is in food stamp cuts, where the Senate is seeking a reduction of only about $4 billion, compared to $21 billion in the House. Overall, the House farm bill calls for savings of almost $40 billion over 10 years, while the Senate would trim spending by about $24 billion.

While the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committees approved farm bills last year, Congress failed to pass a final piece of legislation. Instead, lawmakers passed a one-year measure that extended the 2008 farm law until Sept. 30.

Separately, Noem said she will be holding a conference call with South Dakota farmers, ranchers and agriculture stakeholders at 6 a.m. May 23 to talk about the farm bill and answer questions.

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