House approves partial Farm Bill by eight votes
The House of Representatives passed a stripped down version of HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (Farm Bill) by a vote of 216-208 July 11, containing only farm programs. The passage of the bill was unique, since the Nutrition Title -- food stamps, WIC, and school lunch programs -- was taken out of this version of the Farm Bill.
In response to the bill’s passage, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, issued the following statement regarding the vote, “The bill passed by the House today is not a real Farm Bill and is an insult to rural America, which is why it’s strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food, and conservation groups. We will go to conference with the bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill that was passed in the Senate that not only reforms programs, supports families in need, and creates agriculture jobs, but also saves billions more than the extremely flawed House bill.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement, “Today’s strictly partisan vote to pass the Farm Bill apart from the Nutrition Title undermines the long-time coalition of support for a unified, comprehensive Farm Bill which has historically been written on a bipartisan basis.”
The National Farmers Union “will continue to do all it can to get a reasonable bill through the conference process. Any final legislation must continue existing permanent law provisions and include meaningful safety net protections for both family farmers facing difficult times and the food insecure,” Johnson said.
The American Soybean Association and the National Grange are concerned about splitting the Nutrition Title out of the Farm Bill.
The American Soybean Association “is relieved that we will finally see a conference on the Farm Bill. However today’s approval by the House on a partial bill will mean nothing if we can’t get a bill back from conference that both chambers will pass. In that sense, there is still much work to be done,” said American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy after the passage.
The soybean association “is opposed to the replacement of permanent law by whatever legislation may result from this process. If only Title 1 of a new Farm Bill is made permanent, other titles -- including conservation, research, energy, and trade -- would risk not being reauthorized when the bill expires after five years, since Title 1 would remain in place. Also, we are very concerned that Title 1 of a new bill could include provisions that would distort plantings and production in years of low prices, and that it would be extremely difficult to change these provisions if the legislation were made permanent.”
National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright issued the following statement, “This is a giant step in the right direction but we’re still a long way from getting a full five-year Farm Bill. We believe the Senate will not be very receptive to a Farm Bill without a Nutrition Title, which includes food stamps, WIC, and school lunch programs. But more pressing is the issue of time. There are less than three weeks until Congress takes its August recess, making it increasingly more difficult for members to settle this issue before the Sept. 30 deadline. The clock is ticking and the Grange hopes that our legislators on the Hill will be able to reach some sort of agreement soon. If they don’t, American agriculture will continue to struggle.”