The 2012 farm bill (now being called the “food, farm, and jobs bill”) was passed out of the house Agriculture Committee early Thursday morning. There were a number of last minute changes, but whenever the bill goes to the House floor (House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has so far refused to guarantee it any floor time before the authorizations expire September 30th) it will do so with only 2/3 of the funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program passed by the Senate, and lower overall funding for many agricultural programs.
Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s remarks critiquing the bill passed by the House Committee follow:
“Americans deserve a farm and jobs bill that reforms the safety net for producers in times of need, promotes the bio-based economy, conserves our natural resources, strengthens rural communities, promotes job growth in rural America, and supports food assistance to low-income families.
Unfortunately, the bill produced by the House Agriculture Committee contains deep cuts in SNAP, including a provision that will deny much-needed food assistance to 3 million Americans, mostly low-income working families with children as well as seniors. The proposed cuts will deny 280,000 children in low-income families access to school meals and reduce farm income across rural America. These cuts wouldn’t just leave Americans hungry – they would stunt economic growth. The bill also makes misguided reductions to critical energy and conservation program efforts.
As the legislative process moves forward, the Administration will continue to seek policy solutions and savings across the Farm Bill that are consistent with the President’s Budget.”