The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday approved the draft farm bill, with 26 in favor, and 20 voting against the bill. Democrats and Republicans squared off on the nutrition title, which Republicans are seeking to reform to include work requirements. However, Democrats argue the program changes may be too costly, and that the reforms are “not the right way” to help people get work. Georgia Democrat David Scott went as far to call the draft the “most terrible farm bill we’ve ever had.”
Upon passage, Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the below remarks:
“Today’s vote was about America’s farmers and ranchers. It was about a better future and greater opportunities for SNAP recipients. It was about fulfilling an obligation to lead, rather than standing on the sidelines.
“I’m disappointed that my Democrat colleagues have turned their backs on America’s heartland – that they’ve chosen partisan politics over the three years of bipartisan work in this committee. Democrats halted talks over their objection to requiring work-capable adults to either find employment or receive free training for 20 hours per week. Yet, despite this turn of events, I remain hopeful. When House Democrats pushed a partisan farm bill that raised taxes in 2008 over Republican objections, Republicans worked alongside Democrats to fend off hostile amendments aimed against the legislation on the House floor and worked in conference committee to achieve a bipartisan farm bill. I am hopeful Democrats will not hold the nation’s farmers and ranchers hostage in this process over the SNAP work and training requirements, which will provide SNAP beneficiaries not just a benefit, but a better future that only a job can provide.
“But we’ll continue fighting, we won’t settle for the status quo – because America needs a farm bill. America deserves a farm bill. And I look forward to taking this vote to the people’s House – to debating these policies on the floor and to sharing our vision with the American people. We have cleared this hurdle and will deliver a strong, new farm bill on time.”
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson released the following statement:
“It makes no sense to put the farmers and rural communities who rely on the farm bill’s safety net programs at risk in pursuit of partisan ideology on SNAP. Between record low farm incomes, and the escalating threat of a trade war and other market disruptions, farmers have enough to worry about. Breaking up the long-standing, bipartisan, urban-rural farm bill alliance is a dangerous and unproductive step that will only sow division and jeopardize both this and future farm bills.
“This bill attempts to change SNAP from a feeding program to a work program. The bill rejects the testimony of 89 witnesses, and instead includes ideological language that will force people off of SNAP to pay for massive state bureaucracies that won’t work and are a waste of money. This legislation is based on false perceptions and ignores reality.
“The bill also fails to make needed improvements to the farm safety net. American farmers are suffering from the largest drop in farm income since the Great Depression but the farm safety net in this bill is inadequate and won’t help farmers. Our farmers need a safety net that will address their current reality. This farm bill fails to provide the certainty farmers need during uncertain times.”