Uncertain Future for 2013 Farm Bill

House Fails to Pass Farm Bill

The House of Representatives failed to pass their version of the 2013 farm bill by a vote of 195-234 on Thursday June 20. This vote comes about a year after House leaders removed a prior version of the bill from House consideration. The bill had been shelved because conservative lawmakers said they required deeper cuts from the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) than Democrats would abide. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill on June 10.

An amendment by Representative Southerland (R-FL) in the 2013 bill to allow states to add work requirements to the SNAP program adopted just prior to vote on the whole bill, likely reduced the quantity of Democratic votes secured in support of the bill. After the bill failed to pass, House Leader Cantor (R) and Whip Hoyer (D) had a spirited exchange about the Southerland amendment, and each claimed the other turned a bi-partisan bill into a partisan bill.

In a press release, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma said that although he was disappointed the bill did not pass, he has “no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need.” However, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) in a statement on its blog wrote: “it is unclear what the path forward now is for the 2013 Farm Bill.”

For greater detail on the nature of the bill the House rejected, a very good account is provided here at the New York Times, and here at farmpolicy.com.

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