WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives today narrowly passed a Farm Bill that does not include nutrition programs, although the vote is unlikely to result in meaningful action towards a new five-year Farm Bill.
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The House Rules Committee posted the text of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 online last night and a vote was called for today. The bill included changes to farm subsidies and other agricultural programs but omitted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps.
After a day of spirited debate on both sides of the aisle, the bill passed 216-208, split mostly along party lines.
Many senators, including Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said they would not consider a Farm Bill that does not include SNAP.
“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,” Stabenow said in a statement. “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.”
Vice Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued a statement following the House vote applauding the outcome.
“The legislation passed by the House today is a true, reform-minded Farm Bill. This farm-only Farm Bill eliminates outdated and duplicative programs, provides regulatory relief for America’s farmers, and reduces the size and scope of the federal government,” said Goodlatte.
“By splitting the farm programs from the nutrition programs, as we have done today, the House will now have the opportunity to act on the nutrition programs within the Farm Bill separately, where the House will have the chance to make much-needed cuts and reforms,” he added.
The White House indicated in a statement yesterday that President Barack Obama would veto any Farm Bill lacking SNAP.
“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net, and should not be left behind as the rest of the Farm Bill advances,” the White House said.
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance issued a statement approving of the House's bill.
The House failed to pass a Farm Bill last month that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP over 10 years because many Democrats believed the cuts were too deep and some Republicans said they weren’t deep enough.
The Senate passed a version of the bill in June that would reform agriculture programs and cut $4 billion from SNAP.
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