House Republicans passed the farm bill sans food stamps on Thursday, sparking criticism from Democrats who called the GOP “cruel” for separating the assistance program from help for farmers.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who had been on his caucus to pass the farm bill for his agricultural constituents, had a mixed reaction to the 216-208 vote.
“FARRM provides certainty to farmers and producers by being cognizant of our current fiscal situation, saving almost $20 billion over the life of the bill and ending direct payments to farmers,” King said. “While I am disappointed the Farm Bill that passed the House today did not contain changes to current nutrition policy, I am hopeful that House Leadership will bring a nutrition bill to the Floor soon so we have the chance to make necessary reforms to bloated nutrition policies.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said the legislation “is by no means perfect,” yet “represents a major step forward in consolidating and reducing outdated or inefficient programs, while reforming and improving programs like crop insurance.”
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who voted yes, said he nevertheless had “very significant concerns about some portions of the legislation.”
“I believe we need to move the farm bill forward, and there are very negative consequences that come from either not passing any farm bill at all, or having to pass another extension of current policy,” he said. “My vote today helped move the bill to conference committee so that we may begin to work on differences with the Senate and also begin working on fixing some of the problems with the House bill.”
“In particular, I am very much against the current bill’s handling of target prices and have made my concerns very publicly known. The current target prices in H.R. 2642 are set too high, distorting the market and likely resulting in farmers receiving a government payout at a time of profitability. It is not good agriculture policy to guarantee a set price with no relationship to yields and cost of production,” Gibbs added.
The food stamps will likely be the top point of contention in conference.
“Passing a farm bill that provides taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to millionaires and completely abandons hungry children, poor seniors and people with disabilities is shameful,” said Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). “I opposed the Republicans’ cruel and hyper-partisan legislation. I urge the American people to stand with Democrats and reject it as well.”
No Democrats voted for the bill while 12 Republicans voted against it.
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) charged that the GOP “voted to increase hunger in America.”
“For four decades, supplemental nutrition has been an integral part of the Farm Bill. Hunger and food insecurity is a real danger for many families who are still struggling to make ends meet,” Clay said Thursday afternoon. “But today, House Republicans told 47 million Americans that they just didn’t matter.”
“It is outrageous that Republicans have the nerve to tell hungry children, the rural poor, seniors and the disabled that while this country can afford to preserve subsidies for corporate farms, it can’t afford to help the most vulnerable put food on the table,” he added.