Many of you may have recently read or heard news about the U.S. House of Representatives rejecting a five-year renewal of the Farm Bill. If you are like me, the next question you asked was what is the Farm Bill? This sounds like a question for Urban Hermits! According to the National Farmers Union, the Farm Bill is:
“…[A]n extensive, omnibus piece of legislation that is reauthorized roughly every five years. ‘Farm bill’ is really a misnomer, because although the legislation does contain a number of provisions that are critical to family farmers’, ranchers’, and fruit and vegetable growers’ economic success, more than 75 percent of the bill’s funding is allocated for nutrition assistance for the underprivileged, both in the United States and abroad. Much of the remaining provisions relate to rural business development, incentives for renewable energy production, and protection of our country’s most precious natural resources” (National Farmers Union 2013).
It is that 75 percent that caused the Farm Bill to be rejected by the House last week. The Farm Bill is traditionally bipartisan, supported by the republicans who typically represent the districts containing most of the nation’s farmland and the democrats who have always been on board with federal assistance for both farmers and this country’s malnourished. However, food assistance, in particular, has been a huge point of debate between the two parties of recently, causing the farm bill to only receive a one year extension in 2012 and now, being rejected, a questionable future. Debates over the government’s $17 trillion budget deficit led to several amendments to the bill. Proposed reduction of food assistance caused democrats to vote “noe”, while continued subsidies and social spending led many republicans to vote against it, demanding more cuts to an already bloated budget. All in all, what is normally a bipartisan success transformed into a proposal that neither side could support, leading to a bold 234-195 “noe” vote (Jalonick 2013). What is next? Will the sides come together for another Farm Bill? In my mind, they’ll have to.
Jalonick, Mary Clare. “House rejects farm bill, 62 republicans vote no”. The Associated Press. 20 June 2013
Images: “Debbie Stabenew” The Detroit News.; “Frank Lucas” Republican National Convention Blog.