By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery release a written statement in response to the passage of a revised House Farm Bill. Rep. Roby said that the legislation which passed on Thursday moves agriculture policy in the right direction, but that the Congress missed an opportunity to reform the costly federal food stamp program.
Representative Roby said, “The revised Farm Bill is a positive step for agriculture policy. This bill contains many reforms we’ve been working on for two years, including ending direct payments, consolidating more than 100 duplicative programs and several regulatory relief measures. It offers parity for Alabama farmers and restricts the increasingly-frequent practice of paying landowners to let fertile cropland go unplanted – a reform I proposed originally.”
Rep. Roby continued, “However, by removing the nutrition components of the bill, we have missed a unique opportunity to reform government and rein in spending. The original Farm Bill contained reforms that would have saved taxpayers $20 billion by reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the food stamp program. Without these badly-needed reforms, the unrestrained food stamp spending policies left over from the Pelosi Congress will continue.”
Representative Roby concluded, “I voted for the revised Farm Bill because it protects Alabama farmers and moves federal agriculture policy in the right direction. But, I fear that we missed a rare opportunity to to reform a mandatory government spending program. I’ve made it a priority during my time in Congress to find ways to rein in reckless government spending through responsible reforms, and that will remain my priority despite this setback.”
Ironically, 62 fiscal hawks in the Republican Caucus helped the Democrats kill the previous version of the farm bill in a stunning vote of no confidence in the House leadership, because they felt that there were not enough cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), still commonly referred to as “Food Stamps” even though most beneficiaries get their benefits on a point of sale (POS) readable card now.
That failed vote led to the House splitting the controversial and costly food stamp program from the Farm Bill. That move infuriated House Democrats (all of whom voted against the bill), but was enough to lure the support of all but 12 House Republicans, despite continued opposition to the bill from far right think tanks including the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth.
Thursday’s passage means that the Farm bill now goes to a conference committee with the Senate which has already passed a Democratic Party led version of the Farm bill. The farm bill reauthorizes farm programs for another five years.
Rep. Roby, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and helped draft the original Republican farm bill, voted in favor of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, the Farm Bill.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.