What Happened to the Farm Bill?

Jun 26th, 2013 | By | Category: In The News
Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition Update:
There was a flurry of Farm Bill activity in the Senate and the House in May through June, with the Senate passing its version on June 10th by a strong bipartisan vote of 66 to 27.  Of the $24 billion in cuts made in that bill, $4.1 billion came from SNAP over ten years.  Though the SNAP cuts would not likely have had a significant impact in Vermont, over 500,000 households across the country would have lost an estimated $90 a month in benefits. 
 
The House then debated its version of the bill last week.  The bill proposed by the House Agriculture Committee included $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts over ten years which would have cost two million low-income individuals their benefits entirely, 210,000 children would have lost their free school meals, and an additional 850,000 households would have seen their benefits cut by an average $90 a month.  In Vermont, these cuts would have likely dropped about 7,000 Vermonters from the program and reduced benefits for over 10,000 more.
 
Added to these cuts were last minute harmful amendments that would have allowed states to conduct random drug testing on SNAP applicants, permanently banned certain ex-offenders who have served out their sentences from ever being eligible for benefits, and imposed punitive and unrealistic work and training rules that would have led to the end of benefits for people desperate to find jobs but unable to find them.  In the end, the final House bill was rejected by a vote of 195 to 234 on Thursday, June 21.
 
Hunger Free Vermont and hundreds of groups across the country were opposed to the massive SNAP cuts and harmful amendments in the House bill.  We thank all the coalition members who joined us in this advocacy!  While we very much wanted to see a Farm Bill passed, one that included a strong nutrition title as well as strong supports for dairy farmers, the final bill from the House contained neither.  And so, we sincerely thank Congressman Welch for his strong stance for both nutrition and dairy and for his vote against the final bill. 
 
See also: Welch Bemoans Farm Bill FailureSt. Albans Messenger, June 22,  State Officials Worry About Future of Dairy IndustryVPR, June 25, Reid pressures House to pass farm bill,Times Argus, June 25
 
What’s Next?
 
The Farm Bill will expire on September 30th this year unless Congress acts.  It is unclear whether the House leadership will try again to pass a bill or not.  At the same time, Senate leadership may work to have the Senate bill added to other legislation as an alternative route.   There is also the option to extend the current 2008 Farm Bill as was done last year.  If no Farm Bill passes, SNAP remains intact, but the future is much less certain for many other programs, including support for dairy farmers.
 
Looks like we could be talking Farm Bill for many months to come….stay tuned and again, thank you to everyone who has been active in working to protect and strengthen nutrition programs in this Farm Bill process!  Feel free to follow up with any questions you may have.
 

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