By Patty Lovera
This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted on the farm bill – and it failed 195-234. Many Democrats voted against it because of the drastic cuts to food stamps ($20 billion, compared to $4 billion cut in the Senate version) and several amendments adopted on the House floor that made the bill even worse, including allowing states to establish drug test and work requirements for food stamp recipients. More Republicans than expected voted against the bill because they object to the size of government programs for things like crop insurance, dairy support and the sugar program. You can see how your Representative voted here.
While we’ve come to expect drama and dysfunction from the farm bill process, we don’t know anyone who thought it would go this way. The House bill was terribly flawed on a number of fronts. But the failure of the House to pass a bill at all raises the chance that we have to live through another year of an extension of the last farm bill. This isn’t good either because the last extension did not renew a lot of important programs for organic, conservation and beginning farmers.
The big question at this point is whether the House will try again to pass their own version of the bill, vote on the version the Senate already passed, or just stay gridlocked until they have to pass an extension (before September 30). There really isn’t any sense making predictions with this bunch, since they seem intent on doing things that supposedly “never happen” to the farm bill.
So once again…stay tuned for updates.