Iowa reaction to House passing Farm Bill with no nutrition programs

After last month’s embarrassing failure to pass a five-year Farm Bill in the U.S. House, Republicans moved new legislation yesterday that included funding for agricultural programs but excluded the nutrition programs that have been embedded in farm bills for decades.

After Democrats forced a long slog through procedural votes, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act barely passed by 216 votes to 208. Every Democrat present voted against the bill, as did twelve Republicans. The rest of the GOP caucus voted yes, including Representatives Tom Latham (IA-03) and Steve King (IA-04). Last month, King tried but failed to muster sufficient conservative support for a farm bill including big cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (more commonly known as food stamps). Iowa Democrats Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) rejected yesterday’s bill. They were among the small group of House Democrats to support the previous version of the farm bill despite cuts in nutrition programs that drove away most of their caucus.

Comments from Senator Tom Harkin and most of Iowa’s House delegation are after the jump. I will update this post as needed with more comments from Iowa candidates or elected officials. At this writing, I don’t see anything about yesterday’s vote on Latham’s Congressional website. According to Radio Iowa, Latham “said he was disappointed with the process, but pleased the House was ‘at least able to pass the agriculture portion.’”

Statement from Representative Bruce Braley:

Braley: “Fake Farm Bill… Would Dismantle the Farm Bill Itself”

Braley statement opposing HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the US House voted on HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act:

“This is a fake Farm Bill. It’s nothing less than a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would dismantle the Farm Bill itself. That’s why more than 530 agriculture groups have criticized splitting the Farm Bill like this and why many groups – including the Farm Bureau and the Renewable Fuels Association – are opposing this bill entirely.”

“For over two years, I’ve fought tooth and nail to pass a long-term extension of the Farm Bill. The only way it’s going to happen is if Republicans and Democrats support a bipartisan bill.  Congress must work together to find common ground – not continue playing political games that drive people further apart.”

Memo released by Braley’s office later in the day:

TO: Iowa Reporters and Interested Parties

FR: John Davis, Chief of Staff, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01)

SUBJ: The Fake Farm Bill: Why it dismantles the Farm Bill and why Iowa Farmers oppose it

DATE: Thursday, July 11, 2013

Whether you’re an Iowa farmer or just live in Iowa, you know how crucial the Farm Bill is to rural America and the Iowa economy. For two years, Congress has struggled to pass a long-term extension of the Farm Bill into law.

The latest attempt happened earlier today, when the US House voted on a controversial and divisive piece of legislation, HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

Rep. Bruce Braley voted against the bill, saying the legislation amounted to a “fake Farm Bill… a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would dismantle the Farm Bill itself.”

Indeed, HR 2642 blows apart the Farm Bill, endangering the stability and certainty the legislation provides to rural America.

Given this reality, more than 530 agriculture groups from across the country have criticized the approach contained in HR 2642, including the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Sheep Industry Association, the American Soybean Association, the American Association of Crop Insurers, the American Coalition for Ethanol, American Veterinary Association, John Deere Crop Insurance, and the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE). Many of these groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Renewable Fuels Association have also urged members of Congress to vote against the bill.

For your reference, please find below:

1.      A short legislative primer on HR 2642 – what it does and why it blows apart the Farm Bill

2.      Comments we received from Iowa agriculture groups on the dangers of this bill

The Fake Farm Bill Blows Apart the Farm Bill

HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, blows apart the very foundations of the Farm Bill:

1.      Risks elimination of mandatory funding for the following crucial provisions of the Farm Bill:

o   Conservation – farmers’ incentives to set aside farmland for conservation purposes are threatened.

o   Energy – funding for biofuel, wind, and other renewable energy programs are threatened. This endangers Iowa’s entire ethanol industry, which supports 55,000 Iowa jobs and $5.4 billion of Iowa’s GDP. Likewise, wind energy production in Iowa supports more than 6,000 jobs. Wind energy manufacturers have invested more than $300 million in Iowa, and more investments are on their way – like the $1.9 billion investment from MidAmerican Energy to build 1,050 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of 2015.

o   Trade – supports for trade marketing assistance are threatened.

o   Credit – the future of farm credit programs for young famers is threatened

o   Rural Development – programs for businesses in rural America, community programs, rural infrastructure assistance, and broadband are threatened.

o   Research and Extension – programs like Iowa State University’s extension services are threatened.

o   Horticulture – programs supporting specialty crops are threatened.

2.      Removes the Nutrition title from the Farm Bill

o   Disconnecting the SNAP program from the Farm Bill fails to recognize Iowa farmers’ role in feeding Americans all over the country. The SNAP program accounts for $539 million in economic activity for Iowa agriculture.

o   Additionally, Congress is ignoring their responsibility to renew this important program. As Rep. Braley put it yesterday, this is the “latest example of what’s wrong with Congress.”

In Their Words: Farm Groups are Concerned about HR 2642 and Oppose It

“It is vital for the House to try once again to bring together a broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to provide certainty for farmers, rural America, the environment, and our economy in general and pass a five-year farm bill upon returning in July. We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing, and urge you to move a unified farm bill forward.” [Letter to Speaker John Boehner, signed by more than 530 agriculture groups, 7/2/13]

“We are also very much opposed to the repeal of permanent law contained in H.R. 2642. This provision received absolutely no discussion in any of the process leading up to the passage of the bill out of either the House or Senate Agriculture Committees. […] We urge you to oppose the rule as well to vote against final passage of this attempt to split the farm bill and end permanent law provisions for agriculture.” [Letter to Rep. Bruce Braley from Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, 7/11/13]

Statement from Representative Dave Loebsack:

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House voted on a split version of the Farm Bill.  Loebsack has consistently fought to move a Farm Bill forward that can be signed into law.  Last month, he joined the Iowa delegation, and was one of only 24 Democrats, to support the complete House version of the Farm Bill, which was voted down.  He also introduced in the House the bipartisan farm bill legislation that recently passed the Senate with the support of both Senators Harkin and Grassley.

“It is unconscionable that the dysfunction of Republicans in the House has led to this highly partisan legislation that does not provide the support our farmers and rural communities deserve.  There has been a coalition of agriculture and nutrition groups that have worked together for decades to pass a Farm Bill.  The House Republicans’ decision to split the bill is about Washington politics, not getting a farm bill done.  The decision to put partisan politics ahead of farmers is opposed by agriculture advocates including both Iowa Senators, Harkin and Grassley, and the American Farm Bureau, along with a group of 530 agriculture and rural development organizations, who have all expressed opposition to moving a split bill.

“I have been fighting to get a bipartisan Farm Bill signed into law.  We have to move this process forward and pass a bill that can go to conference with the Senate and be signed into law.  This legislation does not move the bill forward; it is in fact a step back.  The House needs to do its job and pass a long term Farm Bill. The continued partisan games will only continue to further delay the enactment.”

Statement from Representative Steve King:

Washington, DC – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM):

“I am pleased my Republican colleagues in the House came together to pass a Farm Bill today,” said King. “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.

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.

I want to thank Chairman Frank Lucas and my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee who fought for passage of this bill. I look forward to our continued work together on agriculture policy this year.”

Statement from Senator Tom Harkin:

Harkin Statement on House Elimination of Nutrition Funding in Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed a proposed new farm bill that deletes the continuation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a number of other federal nutrition assistance programs from the legislation. With strong bipartisan support, the Senate approved last month a comprehensive farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which includes a nutrition title, along with titles covering farm commodity, conservation, crop insurance, energy, rural development, and other policy areas.

“House Republicans have demolished the very coalition that has served our whole nation well for decades – a coalition of rural and urban, farmers and consumers. Their actions today abandon U.S. families who need our help to put food on the table while destroying the time-tested farm bill alliance that has drawn urban votes for agricultural and rural programs. This House action is a grave disservice to the entire nation – farmers, ranchers, rural communities, consumers and urban areas.”

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation isn’t happy:

“Repealing permanent farm law leaves little incentive for Congress to complete future bills in a timely fashion.  The House leaders need to understand that removing permanent farm law leaves farmers, and the food they produce, vulnerable,” said Craig Hill, IFBF president.  “The key part of this has been the traditional alliance of nutrition and farm stakeholders, so splitting this weakens the rural voice in this vital debate.”

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Joni Ernst posted this comment on Facebook:

Congressman Braley voted against Iowa’s hard-working farmers today and again demonstrated just how out of touch he’s become in Washington, D.C. Agriculture remains the backbone of Iowa’s economy, and hundreds of thousands of Iowa families rely on this industry for jobs. Unfortunately, they can’t rely on their own congressman. Today, Bruce Braley voted against Iowa jobs and with Nancy Pelosi.

  • Honestly...

    This seems like the only path now to move this forward, and get it to conference committee.  Not much choice left with the rejection of the previous bill.

    • it's a dead letter

      In conference the Senate negotiators will insist on food/nutrition programs being included in the bill, and the House negotiators will resist.

      My money is on another short-term extension in September.  

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