The Farm Bill was passed by the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday in a 26-20 party line vote. Since last week’s draft bill was announced, many have speculated the proposed changes to be made before being passed to the full House floor, however, very few amendments were made. In fact, only 15 Republican amendments were approved.
Democrats opposed passing of the bill and are expected to release their own draft within the coming weeks. SNAP is still controversial, and despite a largely bipartisan agreement to most of the legislation, the Nutrition Title remains the key to passing the Farm Bill by this fall.
Major organizations such as NCBA, National Pork Producer’s Council, and the American Farm Bureau Federation praised the passing of the bill, with NCBA President Kevin Kester stating, “We want to thank Chairman Mike Conaway and the other members of the House Agriculture Committee who have worked so hard to craft this Farm Bill and to ensure that it protects the priorities of America’s cattle producers. We’ll continue to work through the Farm Bill process to make sure that it includes authorization and full funding for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank, as well as funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), research, foreign market development, and market access programs.”
Other organizations are seeking further amendments to the bill, such as National Young Farmer’s Coalition: “So few amendments offered to such an important and wide-ranging bill can mean only one of two things: either Members of the Committee think it’s near-perfect, or the House farm bill process is deeply troubled,” Lindsey Lusher Shute, co-founder and Executive Director of NYFC, said Wednesday afternoon. “Failure to pass a Farm Bill this year would be a significant setback for young farmers. While Congress sits in its committee room arguing, young farmers are putting everything on the line to grow food for the nation. Farmers need Members of Congress to back them up and support the programs that make a difference. We appreciate that the draft House bill addresses some of the challenges that young farmers now face, but it also eliminates programs that they rely on and further undermines their ability to compete.”
In opening statements Wednesday, Rep. Mike Conaway stated, “Throughout this Farm Bill process, I have sought in good faith to work with the ranking member in the development of this Farm Bill. By and large, the bill before the Committee today is a reflection of our work together. I sincerely regret that our discussions ultimately did not bear fruit relative to the nutrition title. On SNAP, we have some honest disagreements that apparently prevent us from coming together on a farm bill. I know we will have a full debate on SNAP, especially on the question of whether able-bodied adults should work or train for work for 20 hours per week. I would have liked to have had these discussions over the past month in order to try and reach some accord, but discussions were halted.
“So, I crafted a budget-neutral Nutrition Title that I believe not only keeps faith with SNAP beneficiaries but goes a step further by offering the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stated after Wednesday’s vote, “I commend Chairman Conaway and the House Committee on Agriculture for passing a comprehensive Farm Bill out of the Committee today. The bill closely aligns with the Farm Bill Principles released by USDA in January and is nearly identical to the legislation first introduced last week. We are encouraged that the Committee heard the voices of their constituents, who want to preserve and enhance programs contained in the 2014 Farm Bill, as I learned in my conversations with farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in 35 states in the last 12 months. As the bill heads to the floor, I hope the House recognizes the long-term certainty it provides for America’s farmers, just as it preserves nutrition programs for people who need help feeding themselves and their families. USDA stands ready to provide technical assistance as the bill progresses in the House, and we look forward to working with our friends in the Senate as well. As Republicans and Democrats have farm interests in their own districts and states, we are hopeful that the 2018 Farm Bill can move forward in a bipartisan manner.”
Once the bill is passed in the floor of House of Representatives, which is expected to occur sometime next month, it will move to the Senate.
For a full list of all proposed amendments to the House draft bill, click here.
Markie Hageman is a senior, majoring in agribusiness, at Fort Hays State University. She is actively involved in her state Cattlemen’s Association, Young Farmers chapter, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Follow her series exploring various parts of the next Farm Bill.