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U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor disheartened by farm bill status

The U.S. Senate and House have two dramatically different versions of a federal farm bill, and that comes as a disappointment to U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The Democrat backed a bipartisan Senate version passed last month. Pryor said he feels pressure from lobbies that oppose the farm bill and are trying to divide the Arkansas delegation.

“Farming is far and away our No. 1 industry in Arkansas," Pryor told Red River Radio in a recent interview. "We don’t need to listen to these outside groups. We need to listen to people from Arkansas, and we need to get this done.”

The Republican-led House passed a bill last week that supports agriculture but excluded a nutritional entitlement, essentially stripping out food stamps from the bill. Pryor disagrees with this move. He doesn't see why it's necessary to separate something that’s worked well together for decades. Besides, he said, the nutrition entitlement hits home.

“We wish it weren’t true. But you can go to El Dorado and look at elementary through high schools across south Arkansas, for a lot a kids the best meal they get all day is through the school, and that is paid for through the farm bill," Pryor said.

Last year’s one-year farm-bill extension expires on Sept. 30.