Yes on H.R. 1947, The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (Farm Bill)
I voted for the Farm Bill, which ultimately failed to pass the House of Representatives by a vote of 195-234.
Had it passed, we would have reduced government spending by $40 billion over ten years. We would have reformed farm programs by moving to a more market-based system, where farmers buy crop insurance and are only paid out in bad seasons. And most importantly, we would have closed loopholes and tightened eligibility standards for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—or food stamps. Those changes would have saved $20 billion in nutrition assistance without cutting benefits from families who need a helping hand.
I realize that this bill wasn't perfect, but I think it was an important step forward.
Most Democrats didn’t support it because they felt that $20 billion was too much to cut from nutrition assistance. SNAP makes up about 80% of farm bill spending, and $20 billion in cuts is actually only a 2.5% reduction. So Democrats are saying that three cents on the dollar in savings from nutrition assistance are too much. Meanwhile, we’re taking more than 15 cents on the dollar away from crop support, and they’re saying that’s not enough.
On the other hand, some Republicans didn’t think we cut enough. I think that view is a little short-sighted. The way the law stands, funding for food stamps will continue as-is, regardless of whether or not we pass a farm bill. So by voting against it, they voted against any reforms. They decided not to cut $20 billion from nutrition assistance, and to let spending continue to grow under this Administration.
Meanwhile, hardworking farmers and ranchers, who work hard every day to produce food for our table and clothes for our families, are now left wondering how to plan for next season. Will they be able to protect themselves against shallow losses by purchasing crop insurance? I’d like to give them some certainty, so I’ll keep working to put long-term farm policy in place.