From Green Right Now Reports
The House version of the Farm Bill failed today (read about it at The Hill), the apparent victim of its own overreach.
The bill included deep cuts for food stamps for the needy, which Republicans said were needed to reduce the deficit and which most Democrats argued were unfair and unnecessary.
Advocates for the poor cheered the defeat, saying it will save school children from going hungry.
“Today the House of Representatives failed to approve its farm bill legislation by a vote of 195 to 234, marking a significant victory for the millions of American who live at risk of hunger,” said Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America.
“Members of Congress heard from their constituents loud and clear that the proposed cuts of $21 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were unacceptable.
“The cuts would have caused 2 million individuals to lose food assistance entirely and 850,000 households to see their food benefits cut by an average $90 per month. Additionally, the bill would have cut free school meals for 210,000 low-income children.
Congress should now create a new farm bill that “protects and strengthens nutrition assistance,” Aiken said.
Some environmentalists also were relieved that the House Farm Bill was defeated, because it gave conservation short shrift.
“The House farm bill failed commonsense conservation standards, and it failed to get enough votes to pass,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
“Reasonable measures to protect taxpayers and natural resources must be included a farm bill. The National Wildlife Federation will continue to fight for a farm bill that includes a link between conservation compliance and crop insurance, and a National Sodsaver program.”
Others noted that the farm bill would have continued to subsidize big producers over small farmers, an inequity that would have human and land costs.
In a blog about the bill, Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, explained how the bill would have continued to confer large subsidies to big corporate growers, but not smaller operators, who are more likely to be farming the family-owned property in land-conserving ways:
“Because subsidies remain unlimited, the largest 1 percent of crop insurance subsidy recipients will continue to collect, on average, about $220,000 apiece in premium support, while the bottom 80 percent will get about $5,000.”
And while plumping subsidies to big producers, the bill would have needlessly cut programs to help the hungry and the environment – by $20 billion and $5 billion, respectively, he wrote.
Even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that the House bill seemed unfair.
“Unfortunately, the House version of this bill would have unfairly denied food assistance for millions of struggling families and their children, while failing to achieve needed reforms or critical investments to continue economic growth in rural America. As a result, the House was unable to achieve bipartisan consensus.”