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Farm Bill fails in the U.S. House of Representatives

For the second time in two years, the U.S. House of Representatives has failed to pass a new Farm Bill. HR 1947 was defeated last Thursday on a 234-195 vote. The Senate had earlier passed its own version, but without the House following suit, the bill can't become law.

"The recent defeat of the Farm Bill is very disappointing," OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. "The OAN has worked with a number of partners to secure much-needed programs and funding for research, pest and disease efforts, and common-sense conservation policies." The previous Farm Bill has already been extended once, and is now due to expire Sept. 30. Without further action, the agriculture industry will be left without farm policy as of that date. The OAN will continue to monitor the issue in the hopes a bill can be resurrected.

"We hope that both parties put politics aside and do what Congress needs to do — pass the Farm Bill," Stone said.

The bill was defeated in large part due to partisan disagreements over cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps. Republicans amended the bill to include $20.5 billion in cuts, while adding new requirements for food stamp recipients. Democrats were willing to accept some cuts, but not of that magnitude. Most pulled their support, and the White House threatened to veto the bill if it passed. In the end, only 24 Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Republicans also came up short in their own caucus, with 62 voting against it.

Oregon representatives who voted in favor included Greg Walden (R, 2nd District) and Kurt Schrader (D, 5th District); votes against came from Suzanne Bonamici (D, 1st District), Peter DeFazio (D, 4th District), and Earl Blumenauer (D, 3rd District).

Aside from the controversial food stamp provisions, the bill would have capped total federal dollars for the farm safety net, imposed new payment limits on what large farms can get, and blocked a new milk supply program favored by most dairy co-ops.

Most notably, two key reform issues — crop insurance and international food aid — received support from a solid majority of Republicans, amounting to a real breakthrough politically. If a farm bill is to be resurrected, these two bipartisan issues could be fertile ground for compromise.

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