House’s farm bill rejection criticized

Progress on the 2013 farm bill stalled June 20, when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected it with a 195-234 vote.

After the vote, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) issued a statement saying it is “deeply disappointed that the House of Representatives did not pass” the bill.

United Fresh also recorded its displeasure with the House.

“We felt we had a very strong bill for specialty crops that was supported by members from both sides of the aisle,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “We strongly encourage the House leadership and the House Agriculture Committee to get back together and bring back to the House floor a bill that can pass before the current extension expires at the end of September.”

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) representatives were “highly disappointed” the House did not pass the farm bill.

“It was a balanced bill that would have provided much-needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman in a statement.

The House also failed to pass a new farm bill last year, with lawmakers opting to extend the 2008 Farm Bill to Sept. 30, 2013, instead.

The U.S. Senate approved its version of the farm bill June 10 by a 66-27 margin.

Only 20 Democrats voted for the House bill, with most voting against the measure because it cut food stamp programs by more than $20 billion.

Many Republicans also voted no, several citing the $940 billion bill’s impact on the nation’s $17 trillion debt. In the final vote, 62 Republicans opposed the bill.

The House rejection came after a day of close votes on amendments to the bill.

If a bill emerges from the House, it will need to be reconciled with the Senate version before it is sent to President Barack Obama.

– Gary Pullano

Originally posted Thursday, Jun. 20, 2013