Farm Bill Passes House Ag Committee

The U.S. flag flies in front the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building.

April 19, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) On a 26-to-20 vote, the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill passes the Ag Committee and is on it’s way to the House floor later next week. But that hasn’t stopped the debates on Capitol Hill.

House Democrats have not been shy about their contentions. “Let me be clear,” said Ranking Committee Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN), “this bill, as currently written, kicks people off the SNAP program. The Chairman calls it self-selection, call it whatever you want, it’s reducing the SNAP rolls.”

The nutrition title, which includes SNAP, is considered critical to winning the support of urban legislators for the bill’s farm programs, and Democrats say changes to work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries makes it impossible for them to support what has been a bipartisan bill. Democratic legislators also criticized the majority’s process, saying that after more than 100 hearings on key issues, expert advice is not part of the bill’s final language. Farm state Democrats also voiced concerns beyond the nutrition title, complaining that the bill eliminates key funding for rural development and energy titles.

Despite complaints, Democrats did not file any amendments in committee, saying the bill should be scrapped altogether. Frustrated Republicans called on their colleagues not to stall the process, saying both producers and the hungry need the certainy of the farm bill, now more than ever.

Rep. Frank Lucas (R, OK) said that contentious points, including the nutrition title, will likely be taken up again on the floor of the House or during the Conference Committee, when House and Senate Ag Committee will meet to agree on a single Farm Bill later this year. But he stressed that getting the bill out of committee now is essential if there is to be reasonable hope of getting the bill signed into law by the target date of October 1.

The committee adopted 17 amendments to the original Farm Bill, including one proposed by Congressman Steve King to prevent states from regulating how other states grow or process food. It’s meant to address issues like California’s law requiring all eggs sold in the state to be raised cage-free.