By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The new Farm Bill has passed the U.S. Senate, sending the bill on to the White House for the President’s signature.
The bill includes reforms to farm and food stamp policy totaling more than $23 billion in savings, passed the House of Representatives last week.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery praised the bill as a “win” for Alabama farmers, foresters and taxpayers in a video statement released on Tuesday.
Rep. Roby said, “This new five-year Farm Bill is a win for Alabama farmers and foresters. The bill is also a win for taxpayers. It replaces outdated policies left over from the Pelosi-led Congress and represents a positive step toward fiscal responsibility. Reforms included in the bill will save taxpayers more than 23 billion dollars, including 8 billion alone within the food stamp program.”
Rep. Roby served the last three years on the House Committee on Agriculture where she worked on reforming both American agricultural policy as well as the food stamps program which past Congresses have included in the Farm Bill.
Despite her recent move to the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Roby continued to serve on the Conference Committee that was tasked with working through the differences of the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
House Republicans had proposed far more cost savings in the bloated Food Stamps budget. The Senate version did not cut the Food Stamp benefits. The compromise Farm Bill that passed on Tuesday contains reforms to the food stamp program that will save taxpayers $8 billion. Some fiscal conservatives in the House thought that there was not enough savings in the Food Stamp program (or SNAP) so voted against the legislation which has been delayed two years during the partisan stalemate.
Rep. Roby said that the bill includes reforms including: ensuring that illegal aliens cannot fraudulently obtain food stamps by requiring the use of E-Verify, Instituting efforts to help food stamp recipients secure employment through job training and other services, closing the “LIHEAP Loophole,” which allowed states to game the system and artificially increase benefit levels, and cracking down on trafficking and fraud, including by closing a loophole that allowed lottery winners to receive food stamps.
Rep. Roby said, “Among those reforms is one I personally championed that ensures illegal immigrants cannot fraudulently obtain food stamp benefits.”
Congresswoman Roby said that on the agriculture side, the bill includes cost-effective reforms, as well as provisions of particular benefit to Alabama farmers and foresters. The bill will strengthen crop insurance by allowing farmers to invest in their own risk management policies; repeals or consolidates nearly 100 programs or authorizations; limits EPA’s regulation of forest roads; expands the use of forest products; reduce the amount of land allowed into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) program (which pays farmer not to farm); restricts the CRP Program so that it does not include America’s most fertile cropland; and lifts restrictions on irrigation access for Alabama farmers.
Rep. Roby said, “This new five-year Farm Bill is a win for Alabama farmers and foresters. It makes sure federal agriculture policy treats Alabama crops like peanuts and cotton fairly. It includes smart revisions to EPA rules that will help boost our forestry industry and improve irrigation in our state.
The Farm Bill passed the House of Representatives last Wednesday by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 68 to 32. All seven members of Alabama’s House delegation voted in favor of the bill.
The Conservative Congresswoman said, “We need farm and nutrition policies that make sense. This new Farm Bill isn’t perfect, and work toward more reforms will certainly continue. However, passage of this farm bill represents a major step in the right direction.”