The comments came Wednesday as House and Senate negotiators resolved differences in a $396 billion spending bill, which would include an extra $3.1 billion for disaster relief for farmers. The extra money, however, would come from cuts in the farm bill.

Top farm-state lawmakers were instructed to quickly resolve remaining differences over where those savings would come from and how the aid would be distributed.

Reopening the farm bill is “simply not in the best interests of the American farming community,” says BobGoodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Ag Committee.

Goodlatte says, “The farm bill was a very carefully negotiated agreement, and once you reopen it, it essentially becomes a piggy bank susceptible to the whims of others.”

The Virginia representative says Republicans in the House Ag Committee remain united behind the idea that drought relief be targeted to farmers who are “hurting the most.”

Disaster assistance that comes at the expense of the farm bill and isn’t targeted to farmers who suffered losses would call into question whether or not producers are ultimately going to benefit, Goodlatte says.

“We continue to work with the Senate and the White House to find a solution to assist farmers who have suffered a severe drought loss,” Goodlatte says.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com