Farm Bill: Dead-On-Arrival or Key Policy Change?

FarmsCurrent federal farm and food aid policy will expire on September 30, meaning that if Congress fails to pass a new bill by the deadline, American farmers will be subject to a 1949 law governing the industry, a move that could lead to steep prices on food items like milk. House Republicans representing rural districts are facing pressure from their constituents for so far failing to approve the necessary legislation, prompting the party’s leaders to rush to set up a vote on Thursday for a bill that left many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle disappointed.

House Republicans passed the Farm Bill by separating the funding for food stamps from federal agricultural policy, a move that angered both the Obama administration and congressional Democrats who attempted to delay the final vote. The legislation, passed by a slim margin of 216 votes to 208, mandates changes to agricultural policy, and ends direct subsidy payments to farmers. But the bill makes no mention about the funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or foods stamps, which historically draws approximately 80 percent of the funding in the Farm Bill.

No House Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and twelve Republicans also opposed it. Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, cast his ballot in favor of the law, even though speakers traditionally do not vote.