As Promised, Farm Bill Part 2.

This past June, the U.S. House of Representatives was unable to pass a new Farm Bill. If you read my June 26th article, What is the Farm Bill, Anyways?, you may remember that I mentioned you would be hearing about it again, as it is an important bill that not only deals with agricultural subsidies and regulations, but food assistance programs. In summary, the House did not pass a new Farm Bill due to debate of cuts to food assistance programs. Democrats thought the cuts were too steep, while Republicans felt they were too little. In an interesting turn of events, the Farm Bill is in the process of being split up into a series of smaller, more specific bills. This is unique because what was once a large bipartisan project has turned into partisan bickering.

Last month, the G.O.P. controlled house was able to pass a bill that did not include food stamps, but it will certainly be opposed by the majority democratic Senate. This has led to speculation about what will have to happen before the September 30th deadline when the current Farm Bill expires. Check out this short article from the Vindicator, a Youngstown, OH area newspaper that I feels explains the situation well.

Finally, a huge reason why I felt it was time to write about the Farm Bill, is the dreaded King Amendment, which my fellow Urban Hermit, Lauren, wrote about in her June 26th article. This was initially included in the Farm Bill that the House voted on in June. Introduced by Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa), this is an anti-regulation initiative that threatens to reverse a lot of progress that animal right groups have worked hard for. The Humane Society of the United States heavily opposes the King Amendment and requests that you take action: Click here to see what you can do! The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also opposes the King Amendment, see here. Of course, if you would like to personally message Sen. King and tell him how you feel, you can do so here.

Finally, I am going to leave you all with a New York Times opinion piece by Gail Collins that provides some interesting perspective on the Farm Bill battle, particularity the dispute over food assistance.

Image Source: Minnesota Farm, keeva999, Flickr, 1 October 2011.

Sources: “Dysfunctional house fails to pass comprehensive farm bill”. 2 August 2013.


What is the Farm Bill, Anyways?

Sen. Debbie Stabenaw (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senate passed the Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenaw (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Senate passed the Farm Bill.

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).

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla), Agriculture Committee Chairman. The House of Reps. rejected the Farm Bill last week

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla), Agriculture Committee Chairman. The House of Reps. rejected the Farm Bill last week

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.

In the meantime, see how your representative voted HERE

Sources: “2013 Farm Bill”. National Farmers Union. Accessed 26 June 2013

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.