House Narrowly Passes Farm Bill Minus Nutrition Title

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the 2013 five-year farm bill that excluded the nutrition title.  This action abandoned four decades of farm bill precedent of combining farm and nutrition programs, established in 1973.  As a result, the bill passed on a vote of 216-208 with 12 Republicans and all 196 Democrats voting against the bill.  The bill also repeals permanent law (1949 and 1938 agricultural acts) and replaces it with the 2013 bill.  This is a major concern to a number of agricultural groups because permanent law is the mechanism that has forced Congress in the past to pass a new farm bill and not revert back to the 1949 act. 

The agricultural community was split over the House bill.  The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union opposed the bill.  The National Pork Producers Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association supported the bill.  Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “Today was an important step toward enacting a five-year farm bill this year that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty, provides regulatory relief to small businesses across the country, significantly reduces spending, and makes common-sense, market-oriented reforms to agricultural policy. I look forward to continuing conversations with my House colleagues and starting conversations with my Senate colleagues on a path forward that ultimately gets a farm bill to the President's desk in the coming months," 

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However, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member of the committee, stated, “The House Majority’s decision to ignore the will of the more than 500 organizations with a stake in the farm bill, setting the stage for draconian cuts to nutrition programs and eliminating future farm bills altogether would be laughable, if it weren’t true.  This was not the only option. Following the House failure to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan, five-year farm bill, I repeatedly expressed a willingness to work with the majority on a path forward. I firmly believed that if we could find a way to remove the partisan amendments adopted during the House farm bill debate, we would be able to advance a bipartisan bill, conference with the Senate, and see it signed into law this year. Now all that is in question.” 

The bill will now go to conference in the coming weeks with the Senate insisting that nutrition be a part of the final package.  Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MII), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “The bill passed by the House today is not a real farm bill and is an insult to rural America, which is why it’s strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food and conservation groups. We will go to conference with the bipartisan, comprehensive farm bill that was passed in the Senate, that not only reforms programs, supports families in need and creates agriculture jobs, but also saves billions more than the extremely flawed House bill.” 

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