Farm bill conferees were named by House of Representatives leaders in mid-October, but the job of agreeing on a version of the farm bill that can pass both the House and the Senate remains a tall task, some believe.

“I think this gives them the official framework to work under that they can schedule meetings and start comparing differences between the two bills,” said Laura Phelps, president of the Washington, D.C.-based American Mushroom Institute.

“The big question is whether (Republicans and Democrats) can agree on anything on the cuts to food stamps and whether what they come up with could pass both houses,” Phelps said.

Bridging the gap between the House farm bill’s steep cuts to food stamps and the Senate’s treatment of the program will be a challenge, Phelps said. ”At least we moved a little bit, but it’s not a very rosy long-term outlook,” she said.

Failure to pass a new farm bill could result in an extension of the current farm bill, but Phelps said lawmakers probably won’t consider that option until the last days of December this year. Without a new farm bill or an extension of the current farm bill, programs would revert back to their language and price support levels from more than 60 years ago.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said House Republican efforts to cut food stamps will be resisted.

“The $40 billion in cuts to food stamps, our most important anti-hunger program, that House Republicans are advancing, as well as their various other misguided proposals to further hurt those in need, are immoral and must be rejected,” DeLauro said in a statement.

House Republican members of the farm bill conference are: Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chair of the House Agriculture Committee; Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Rick Crawford, R-Ark.; Steve King, R-Iowa; Austin Scott, R-Ga.; Glenn Thompson, R-Penn; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Kristi Noem, R-S.D.; Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Jeff Denham, R-Calif.; Steve Southerland, R-Fla.; Ed Royce, R-Calif.; Tom Marino, R-Penn.; and Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

House Democrats who are part of the farm bill conference committee are: Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee; Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.; Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Tim Walz, D-Minn.; Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.; Jim McGovern, D-Mass; Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif; Filemon Vela, D-Texas, Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; and Sandy Levin, D-Mich.