Latest on the Farm Bill: Farmers Rejoice, Food Stamps Slashed Even Further

Washington, D.C.-After more scrutiny continued over several issues in the finishing of the Farm Bill, the House Agriculture Committee approved the bill on July 12th with a vote of 35-11.

National Farmers Union (NFU) president Roger Johnson applauded the latest version of the Farm Bill, saying, “NFU is pleased that the committee included some protection for long-term price collapse, which is a critical part of any safety net.”

The major winners in this version of the Farm Bill are sugar farmers. The amendment to the no-cost sugar policy was rejected, causing celebration specifically in the state of Louisiana, where many believed the amendment would end their sugar farming industry altogether.

“The sugar industry is important to our nation’s economic health, generating $20 billion annually and creating 142,000 jobs,” Johnson said.

There was also increased support for the insurance of farmers in regards to both their crops and financial resources.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman said, “For more than a year, we have been advocating farm policy that protects and strengthens risk management programs for all farmers. This legislation maintains proven program features such as the marketing loan provision and strengthens the crop insurance program while setting a clear example of fiscal responsibility with significant but fair reductions in agriculture spending over the next decade.”

Perhaps the biggest issue in the establishment of the Farm Bill thus far is the debate on food stamps. While many in the Senate were in agreement on the amount of food stamps to be cut, there was worry that those cuts would increase as the Farm Bill reached the House of Representatives. Those increases came even before it got that far.

"These cuts are a slap in the face to millions of people trying to make ends meet," California Democrat Rep. Lynn Woolsey said in regards to the cuts on food stamp funding. Food stamps were cut an additional $12 billion, increasing from $4.5 billion to $16.5 billion.

While the Farm Bill is currently in the House of Representatives, the final resolution should come soon. The deadline for the new five-year Farm Bill is September 30th, which is when the previous version of the Farm Bill expires.

To read about the Senate's draft, see our previous coverage.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Online July 16