Farm bill failure ‘not shocking’Published 11:02am Friday, June 21, 2013
Rep. Collin Peterson said he was not shocked by the fact that his fellow Democrats were responsible for Thursday’s downfall of the Farm Bill.
“I’m not proud of it, but personally I’m not embarrassed,” said Peterson, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee who represents Minnesota’s agriculture-dominated Seventh District. “I can’t control my colleagues. They’re all elected to represent their districts. It was not a good day for the House of Representatives.”
The House rejected a five year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them. Many Republicans objected to the cost of the nearly $80 billion-a-year program, which has doubled in the past five years.
The vote was 234-195 against the bill, with 62 of 234 Republicans voting against it. Only 24 of 201 Democrats voted for the legislation after many said the food stamp cuts could remove as many as two million needy recipients from the rolls.
With so many amendments that kept coming, “this thing got kind of out of control,” Peterson said. The addition of the optional state work requirements by an amendment just before final passage, along with another vote that scuttled a proposed dairy overhaul, that turned away any remaining Democratic votes.
“Our people didn’t know this was coming,” Peterson said after the vote.
If the farm bill doesn’t pass, farmers could revert back to permanent law or have an extension of the 2008 law. With permanent law, farmers would get a significant increase in the price they get for their commodities, Peterson said.
While it’s really hard to know how much that could cost, it could get to be expensive, Peterson said. It could turn into a situation where the commodities cost hike could be put on consumers, depending on how it’s implemented, Peterson said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., voted for the bill, but Boehner supported the dairy amendment and Cantor supported the amendment that imposed the work requirements.
Peterson and Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla. had warned that adoption of those amendments could contribute to the bill’s downfall. He said he’s hoping the Agriculture Committee can come up with a bill that can pass the House, but he’s not sure what that is yet.
“We don’t have any kind of plan at this point,” Peterson said. “But I think we’re in the mode that we want to try to figure out some way we can get back to where we were with the committee bill.”
The House also voted late Wednesday to delay sweeping food safety rules that would require farmers and food companies to be more vigilant about guarding against contamination.
Lawmakers adopted an amendment by voice vote to a wide-ranging farm bill that would delay the rules signed into law in 2011 until the Food and Drug Administration conducts a study on their economic impacts.
The proposed rules would require farmers to take new precautions against contamination, to include making sure workers’ hands are washed, irrigation water is clean and that animals stay out of fields, among other measures.
Daily Journal and AP