Thursday, April 19, 2018

Farm Bill passes out of committee on party-line vote

The House Agriculture Committee approved Republicans' proposed Farm Bill yesterday on a party-line vote of 26-20. "Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters afterward he hopes the bill can get to a full House vote during the first week of May. Conaway said in opening remarks he was determined to get the bill done on time, as the current farm bill expires Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year," Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

Democrats objected to the bill's huge cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. It would also add work requirements for able-bodied recipients who have no dependents. Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota called it "a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process," and aid the SNAP changes would turn urban lawmakers against farm programs on the House floor. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who chairs the nutrition subcommittee, said the changes in SNAP aren't about saving money, but about creating "good policy to help our neighbors in need who find themselves in a tough circumstance."

The committee made no changes to the commodity section of the bill; Democrats offered no amendments at all. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, added an amendment that would override a California law that requires eggs imported to the state to meet the same cage-free standards required of eggs produced in-state. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., added an amendment to make it a felony to knowingly slaughter or import a dog or cat for human consumption.

"With trade being an emphasis right now, farm groups had called for doubling funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program -- known as MAP and FMD," Clayton reports. "The bill doesn't add funding, but does restore full funding for the programs, which are considered key tools to help sell U.S. agricultural products overseas."

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