By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (R) from Haleyville said in a email to his constituents that he is hopeful that the Farm Bill which was defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives will make a comeback and that the House will be able to pass farm legislation when it comes back from the July Fourth recess.
Representative Aderholt wrote, “At this point the future of agriculture policy is unknown, with the current policy expiring on September 30th. However, I expect the House to bring another farm bill to the floor in July and it is my hope that the House and the Senate can come to an agreement within the coming weeks that prioritizes our producers, reforms food stamps, and ultimately saves taxpayers money.”
Rep. Aderholt said, “Last week, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 came to the House floor for a vote. Unfortunately, partisan politics got in the way of sensible, cost-cutting reform and the bill failed.”
Rep. Aderholt continued. “I think most Americans recognize that farmers, ranchers and producers are vital to our nation—they create jobs in our communities, provide food for our tables, and export goods around the world. The FARRM Act, sponsored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, was about making meaningful reforms to our nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs, while saving taxpayers nearly $40 billion, by taking a market approach to agriculture policy and through much needed reform to food stamp programs. Though I remain fully committed to reducing federal spending, our divided government limits those opportunities and the failure of the FARRM bill was truly an opportunity missed.”
Rep. Jo Bonner (R) from Haleyville said, “Last week the House offered an opportunity to reform food stamps through the new Farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The Farm bill hits abuse in food stamps head on by reinstating income and asset tests for food stamp eligibility; ending USDA bonus awards that effectively encourage states to increase food stamp rolls; ensuring illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased do not receive benefits; and, by prohibiting the federal government from advertising food stamp benefits in foreign countries. These reforms and others in the new Farm bill were estimated to save over $20 billion in the SNAP program. Going beyond efforts to end glaring waste and abuse of food stamps, the House Farm bill would have also reformed federal farm policy to achieve greater efficiency and taxpayer savings.”
Democrats in the House objected to any cuts in the amount of money that the Congress appropriates to the SNAP (food stamps) program so they voted against it. Fiscal hawks and libertarian leaning Republicans also opposed the bill because they felt that it did not go far enough in cutting expenditures on SNAP. The result was a bitter defeat for the Republican version of the farm bill. The Democratic Party controlled Senate has already passed their own version of the farm bill with far less cuts to food stamps.
Even though the Great Recession officially ended years ago, the federal government is spending $78 billion a year on SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs.
Congressman Robert Aderholt represents Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District.