Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where do we go from here on the Farm Bill?

Where do we go from here on the Farm Bill?

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 195-234 against the Farm Bill. The good news is that the 20 billion dollars of cuts to SNAP will not become law. This however also leaves many programs unfunded, fails to act as proper stewards to the Earth, and leaves many rural communities still struggling Now we must ask what can we do for those who are hungry, struggling, or marginalized?

There are a few possibilities for what happens next:

  1. SNAP can continue without a Farm Bill through the appropriations process if a continuing resolution is passed in the fall. This however would leave the environmental provisions, rural development provisions, caps on payment limits, and many other programs un-provided for.
  2. If no Farm Bill is passed, farming policy reverts to 1949, the last year that a permanent Farm Bill was passed, all the Farm Bills since then have been temporary. (Among other things this would substantially raise the price of milk). This is a fairly powerful incentive for the House to revisit the Farm Bill.
  3. Technically, the House can go to conference with the Senate, without passing a full Farm Bill. Something similar happened with last year’s transportation bill. If that happens, something close to the Senate version would probably emerge as the House would have limited leverage in the conference committee. The results of the conference committee would still have to pass the House however, which would require a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans if something close to the Senate version were to be passed.

We will be sure to follow any developments closely on this blog as well as through Facebook , but for now it looks like SNAP has dodged a major attempt to slash benefits thanks to your work and the work of other activists for the marginalized across the U.S. Here’s a quick look at who is helped by SNAP, reminding us why this is so important: