Farm Bill in Progress: The House Ag Committee Mark Up
By Patty Lovera
The House Agriculture Committee began marking up the farm bill today at 10:00 a.m. and proceeded all day with only a short break for the House health care vote. By 7:00p.m., the committee had considered about 40 amendments.
Most of today’s action was related to the nutrition title, which primarily funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill cuts $16 billion from SNAP benefits, primarily by limiting eligibility. The Committee rejected an effort to make the cuts even steeper (by applying the draconian Ryan Budget cuts) but also rejected an effort to restore the SNAP cuts or use the lower level of $4 billion in cuts in the Senate Farm bill.
The Committee allowed for people with SNAP to use their benefits to purchase a share in community supported agriculture (CSA) local farms and approved an amendment to direct money to farmers market programs to increase access for SNAP recipients. The Committee also took up amendments to alter the sugar program (rejected), revisit the changes to the dairy reforms (rejected), keep open busy county USDA offices in the face of proposed closures (accepted), and new microloan program for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers (accepted). Finally, past midnight, the Committee passed their version of the farm bill. Here’s a media statement we released about where we think Congress should go from here.