Today I voted for H.R. 1947 – the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill contained provisions that were vital to dairy and poultry farmers in the 15th District. My Agricultural Advisory Committee, made up of farmers and agricultural specialists across the 15th District, related to me the importance of the passage of the Farm Bill because of these provisions.
As part of debate on this bill, I was a leader in an effort to reform the sugar subsidies that keep American sugar prices artificially high and impacts nearly 600,000 American jobs. Unfortunately, that amendment was defeated by a narrow margin. Even though our effort was defeated, I still believed the bill was worthy of my support.
From a national perspective, the Farm Bill offered a chance to institute substantial reforms on crop subsidies by curbing extravagant payments to a limited number of farmers, in a limited number of states. For example, this bill eliminated direct payments. These are payments to farmers, made at taxpayer expense, regardless of the market prices of crops and regardless of whether or not they even actually farmed. That reform alone would have saved taxpayers $5 billion.
The bill also contained necessary changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps. The bill put an end to efforts by some states to prospect, advertise, and recruit for new food stamp recipients, a practice that the current Administration applauds.
With all its reforms in place, this Farm Bill would have resulted in approximately $34 billion in savings for taxpayers.
Ultimately, the bill was defeated. Which is a shame, because while this was not a perfect bill, it did represent important progress towards needed reform.