House Rejects Five-Year Farm Bill; Future Now Unclear (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

The House stunningly rejected today, by a 195-234 vote, its five-year farm bill (H.R. 1947), blowing up  prospects for new long-term agricultural policy any time in the near future.

Voting against the bill were 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans. Supporting the bill were 171 Republicans and 24 Democrats.

After the vote, a congressional aide said House Democrats promised 40 votes for the farm bill. However, the aide said, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., “at the very last minute that he could not produce what he promised under pressure from both the White House and House Democratic leadership.”

“Republicans delivered the exact number of votes we had promised, per our very accurate whip count,” the aide said. “Today, good faith bipartisanship is trumped by bad faith politics.”

Before the vote, Lucas, essentially begged other lawmakers to approve the bill despite their distastes in several of its provisions.

“I have tried and I hope you acknowledge that,” Lucas said. “If it fails today, I can’t promise you’ll see another bill this session.”

House Democrats were incensed that the House approved an amendment that would require recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients either have a job or are in job training.

The proposed $20.5 billion cut to SNAP had already angered many Democrats who said the reduction was too deep, and many Republicans who said the cut did not go far enough.

Before rejecting the underlying bill, the House debated and voted on several amendments, including one that would change U.S. dairy policy and one that would preserve current sugar policy.

Over the course of two days, the House considered more than 100 amendments. Now, that is all moot.

The House approved, with a 291-135 vote, an amendment, offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., which would strike the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and replace it with a stand-alone margin insurance program for dairy producers.

“The reforms in the amendment will give farmers the necessary tools to manage their risk without requiring them to participate in yet another government program, keeping dairy prices affordable for consumers and businesses,” Goodlatte said. “Furthermore, our amendment, without supply management, would save taxpayers money as certified by [Congressional Budget Office].”

The House turned away an amendment, with a 206-221 vote, offered by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Penn., that sought to end U.S. sugar policy. Pitts argued that artificially high price for U.S. sugar has caused many candy manufacturers to move out of the country.

The House rejected, with a 208-217 vote, an amendment from Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., to limit premium crop insurance subsidies to producers with and adjusted gross income of less than $250,000.

Also, the amendment sought to limit per person premium subsidies to $50,000 and caps crop insurance providers’ reimbursement of administrative and operating at $900 million. Further, the amendment would have reduced the guaranteed loan profit from 14 percent to 12 percent.

Notably, the House approved, with a 225-200 vote, an amendment from Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., that would allow higher education institutions to cultivate hemp for agricultural or academic research.

The House also voted on the following amendments:

  • The House rejected, with a 123-297 vote, an amendment from Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., that would have allowed SNAP benefits to be used to purchase personal hygiene items.
  • The House rejected, with a 174-252 vote, an amendment from Rep. John  Carney, D-Del., that would prohibit savings from being returned to federal crop insurance program.
  • The House rejected, with a 208-218 vote, an amendment from Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., that would add shellfish to the list of specialty crops.
  • The House rejected, with a 197-227 vote, an amendment from Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., that would continue the prohibition on a Christmas tree tax.
  • The House approved, with a 343-81vote, an amendment from Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., that would strike certain olive oil import restrictions.
  • The House rejected, with a 156-268 vote, an amendment from Rep. Tom  McClintock, R-Calif., that would eliminate the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.
  • The House rejected, with a 79-346 vote, an amendment from Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., that would establish a pilot program using data required to be reported for SNAP.
  • The House rejected, with a 194-230 vote, another Marino amendment that sought repeal Biodiesel Fuel Education Program.
  • The House rejected, with a 206-219 vote, an amendment from Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., that sought to modify Forest Legacy Program on conservation easements with program revenue.
  • The House rejected, with a narrow 211-215 vote, an amendment from John Tierney, D-Mass., that would permit commercial fishermen to apply for emergency disaster loans.
  • The House rejected, with a 194-232 vote, an amendment from Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., that sought to strike the Health Food Financing Initiative on a 194-232     vote.
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