U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is urging passage of the nation's farm bill.
Vilsack spoke in farm-rich Arkansas on Wednesday as politicians in Washington were set to begin negotiations on the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill.
The farm bill sets policy for farm subsidies, food stamps and other rural development projects. The fight over renewing it has centered on cuts to the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program.
The House and Senate are far apart on the sensitive issue of how much money to cut from food stamps, and lawmakers are hoping to resolve that debate before election-year politics set in.
Read more in Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.