Revised farm bill passes House
A modified Farm Bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives on Thursday after a broader version was defeated last month.
The new version of the bill did not include food stamps, the first time since 1973 that the program – formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – was not included in the farm bill.
The bill includes $600 million in mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which provides funding to land grant universities such as Cornell University to conduct research on such crops as apples, sweet corn, onions and potatoes.
“Today’s passage of a House Farm Bill is a critical step forward for the hardworking men and women of our agricultural community. This legislation provides farmers with needed regulatory reform and cost-effective programs while saving taxpayers money by ending duplicative and overlapping programs,” Congressman Chris Collins, R-27, said in a statement. “Specific to NY-27, I am proud to have secured additional research funding for our land-grant universities, which provide critical support to our local farms and growers.”
Collins said in his statement that the nutrition program will be considered at a later date.
Passage, by a 216-to-208 vote, sets the stage for a conference between the House and Senate to draft a final version of the bill. The Senate’s bipartisan version of the bill, which was passed in June, includes SNAP. The food stamp program was 80 percent of the original bill’s cost and serves 48 million Americans.
On June 20, the House of Representatives rejected a five-year, $500 billion farm bill that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive the aid. The vote was 234-to-195 against the bill. Members of both parties noted opposition to the food stamp cuts.
The bill is officially known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. Thursday’s vote was largely along party lines, with no Democrats voting in favor of the bill and 12 Republicans voting against it.
“Farmers are counting on the House to get a Farm Bill passed,” Rep. Tom Reed, R-23, said in a statement. “Today’s bill is the way forward so that we can go to conference with the Senate and get a long-term Farm Bill signed into law.”
Across the aisle, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, led a coalition of Democratic Senators calling for nutritional assistance programs to be maintained in negotiations with House leadership.
“We believe that splitting the Farm Bill, while appearing to be politically expedient in the short-term, will undermine future efforts to pass robust agricultural policy that also protects the food safety net for millions of Americans,” the letter signed by Schumer and Gillibrand stated.
While he praised portions of the House bill, New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton urged that both of the farm bill’s traditional components continued to be tied together. The Farm Bureau opposed splitting the bill, which Norton said allows for urban and rural support for agricultural policies.
“Passage of a Farm Bill in the House today should have been a moment for great celebration, but instead, New York’s farmers are left with continued uncertainty about how this bill will become law before the current version expires in September,” Norton said.
“We appreciate the diligent work of the many members of our delegation, including our Agriculture Committee members, for their hard work on the Farm Bill, but we could not support a process that has unknown long-term ramifications,” Norton said. “New York Farm Bureau will continue to work with the entire Congressional delegation for successful completion of a Farm Bill that serves the needs of farmers, our communities and our neighbors in need.”
Additional reporting by Jim Krencik of The (Batavia, N.Y.) Daily News.