Farm Bill defeated in House; traditional rural-urban alliance frayed

The old rural-urban alliance that married farm and nutrition programs failed to get a Farm Bill through the House this afternoon. The bill lost 195-234, with food stamps apparently the main issue.

The House seemed ready to pass the bill this afternoon “after the Agriculture Committee leadership agreed to a sweeping en bloc amendment Wednesday night to greatly shorten the time of debate” and protect the bill from weekend lobbying, David Rogers reports for Politico. The amendment passed 217-208, clearing the decks for votes on more controversial amendments and final passage or defeat.

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Tex., agreed to let his “divisive food-stamp amendment” fail on a voice vote to help attract Democratic votes needed to pass the bill, Rogers writes. The House later rejected an amendment by Rep. Mike Huelskamp, R-Kan., to impose certain work requirements on food-stamp recipients, but then voted 227-198 for an amendment by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., to allow states to set their own work requirements. That may have doomed the bill, which drew only about 20 Democratic votes. About 60 Republicans voted against the bill, which would reduce money for food stamps and put new restrictions on the program.

An amendment by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, D-Va., to scrap the bill’s proposed dairy program failed by a wide margin, despite support from House Speaker John Boehner. Rogers writes that the battle “may be best described as the well-connected vs. the well-heeled. Politically influential milk co-ops like Dairy Farmers of America dominate one side; Kraft Foods, Dean Foods and Nestle, the Swiss international company, are on the other.” (Read more)

Among amendments approved was a bipartisan measure that would allow colleges and universities to grow industrial hemp for academic and research purposes in states that have authorized industrial hemp growth.

Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog.  Article written by Al Cross, former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog.

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