Home 5 Ag Stories What’s next for the Farm Bill?

What’s next for the Farm Bill?

Photo by Dustin Hoffmann

Months and years of hearings, listening sessions and meetings, the House Version of the Farm Bill went down to defeat. The vote margin was 198-213. Every Democrat present voted against the bill Republicans thought they had the votes to pass. The house Republican Freedom Caucus ultimately decided the fate of the bill by withholding their support.

Whether their political leanings are Republican or Democrat, farmers all around the nation are dependent on the stability the farm bill provides. Crop insurance, conservation programs and many other ag related programs get their funding by the bill. However, it was work requirements tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that led to the downfall.

House Republicans touted a measure to help get more people off assistance through training and educational programs. Democrats argued that it put to many fringe recipients in jeopardy of not being able to make their day-to-day ends meet. The Republican measures had the support of President Donald Trump.

The Farm Bill has normally been touted as the most bi-partisan piece of legislation. This 2018 bill was the brought to floor after making it out of the House Ag Committee on a strict party-line vote.

Republican Freedom Caucus members held the bill hostage while trying to gain guarantees for votes on more strict and controversial immigration reform policies. These policies do not have the support of moderate Republicans. Freedom caucus members had guarantees they were looking for and still withheld their support. Caucus member Jim Johnson (R-OH) said that he felt “supporting the Farm Bill was not as important as reining in illegal immigration”.

Farmers of each political party may disagree with Representative Johnson.

After the failure of the bill, House Speaker and Freedom Caucus member Paul Ryan (R-WI) called for a reconsideration. This allows the House to hold a revote in the future, if Speaker Ryan allows it to come back to the floor. Presumably, it is a move to try to buy more negotiation time between Farm Bill supporters and Freedom Caucus Members.

House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN 7th) said after the bill failed that he would be willing to work with committee Republicans to work on a version of the Farm Bill that he guarantees he can deliver House Democratic support for. However, if House Republicans obtain an agreement with the Freedom Caucus, they won’t need to renegotiate with Democrats.

No matter if the House version of the bill had passed or not, it would have faced steep opposition in the Senate. Senate Democrats have much more swaying power and the stricter work requirements would not have a chance at passing.