What is in this article?:
• With a vote of 195 to 234, the farm bill failed to pass the House following two days of debate.
United Fresh is disappointed that the House of Representatives rejected the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) Act of 2013 with a vote of 195-234 this afternoon.
“We felt we had a very strong bill for specialty crops that was supported by members from both sides of the aisle,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “We strongly encourage the House Leadership and the House Agriculture Committee to get back together and bring back to the House floor a bill that can pass before the current extension expires at the end of September.”
Center for Rural Affairs
Today the House of Representatives rejected final passage of the House farm bill by a 234-195 vote.
In an even more historic move, however, the full house voted, 230 to 194, in favor of an amendment offered by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) that would cap farm program payments so they support family farmers and ranchers, not passive investors and mega-farmers.
“We thank Representative Fortenberry for leading the charge to close the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of farm program payment limitations,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Representative Fortenberry’s tireless advocacy for reducing the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive family farmers out of business is laudable,” continued Bruckner.
According to Bruckner, the final passage of the House farm bill failed in part because of huge cuts to the food stamp program and because the rules established for the debate did not allow for further consideration of needed reforms to federal crop insurance premium subsidies.
The House Rules Committee did not allow amendments that would have reduced premium subsidies for those making over $750,000 in adjusted gross income. Nor did they allow a vote on an amendment that would have placed a cap on federal crop insurance premium subsidies to mega-farmers.
“Rep. Fortenberry’s amendment was a good amendment, an historic silver lining, in a farm bill that otherwise did not adequately reflect rural America’s most important priorities,” added Bruckner. “The failure of this farm bill vote sends a clear signal that the Farm Bill needs much greater reform to achieve passage.”
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., made the following statement after the House of Representatives failed to approve a new farm bill.
“The farm bill failed to pass the House today because the House Republicans could not control the extreme right wing of their party. From day one I cautioned my colleagues that to pass a farm bill we would have to work together. Instead, the House adopted a partisan amendment process, playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law.
“This flies in the face of nearly four years of bipartisan work done by the Agriculture Committee. I’ll continue to do everything I can to get a farm bill passed but I have a hard time seeing where we go from here.”
Secretary of Agriculture
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today on the failure of the House version of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill:
"The failure by the House leadership, for the second year in a row, to reach consensus on a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is a tremendous disappointment for all Americans. Twice now, the U.S. Senate has done its job and passed balanced, comprehensive legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.
"Unfortunately, the House version of this bill would have unfairly denied food assistance for millions of struggling families and their children, while failing to achieve needed reforms or critical investments to continue economic growth in rural America. As a result, the House was unable to achieve bipartisan consensus."
"The House did the American people a true injustice today," National Grange President Ed Luttrell said after learning the legislative body failed to pass the farm bill in a 195-234 vote.
The Grange, America's oldest agriculture and rural advocacy group, has been a significant supporter of the bill that Luttrell said would have offered stability to one of the nation's leading industries.
"Last year's extension of the farm bill was extremely disappointing to the ag community and the House's failure to pass the bill today just deepens this frustration," Luttrell said. "The farm bill isn't just about farming and agriculture. It's about jobs, energy, and our nation's overall recovery in this still struggling economy. One in 12 American jobs depend upon agriculture and without the strength and stability provided by the farm bill, our nation's farmers and ranchers will be unable to make rational, informed decisions about the future."
National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said the failure comes mainly from proposed cuts to the 80 percent of farm bill spending marked for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
"Cuts to the SNAP program were undoubtedly the cause of today's farm bill rejection in the House, which is especially frustrating because I believe that the Senate and House bills had a lot of common ground on which to build. It's going to be a long and dreary road from here as the Washington ag community regroups and reevaluates its work on this issue," Boatright said.
Boatright said the continued inability of Congress to move forward on even the most crucial measures is disappointing.
"Unfortunately, American agriculture and the millions of people who benefit from it can't wait for Washington to resolve its issues. We needed action today and I know I speak for our more than 160,000 members when I say we are incredibly disappointed by the House's failure to pass this vital piece of legislation."
Boatright and Luttrell agreed that there is public misunderstanding about aspects of the bill, but say Congress should be more aware than the average American of the need to pass legislation that gives farmers a better safety net, enhances conservation, stabilizes and enhances safety measures for food and assists in the promotion of our products in foreign markets.
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