Today H.R. 1947: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, better known as the “Farm Bill” failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 195 to 234. Following are reactions from two Kansas Representatives.
While there were some strong, positive ag and rural policies in the bill, I could not vote for a bill that locks in the massive expansion of the food stamp program and spends nearly 80 cents of every dollar on food stamps. Food stamp spending has nearly tripled since 2002. Three months ago, nearly every Republican voted for the House Republican Budget that reduces the massive food stamp program by $135 billion. I could not vote for a bill that authorizes a reform of only $20 billion. That’s only 15% of the reduction the House Republican leadership promised. It speaks volumes that more House Republicans voted for my amendment to reform food stamps than voted for the farm bill. There’s a clear path to Farm Bill passage: we must target food stamps to those who need it and transform the program through work requirements. Put another way, I am confident there’s a bill that at least 218 House Republicans can and will support. I encourage the House GOP leadership to take advantage of the best opportunity in a generation to reform the biggest means-tested welfare program we have.
Kansans know that agriculture is central to the health of the Kansas economy, it’s just a shame that Washington doesn’t. The few improvements made in this bill that would have helped feed Americans with Kansas products are overshadowed by some insurmountable problems: an out-of-control food stamp program that swallows 80 percent of this trillion-dollar bill before we even get to agriculture policy and an energy title that provides hundreds of millions of dollars for politically favored industries like “green energy.”
I hope that Congress will take this opportunity to craft an agriculture policy that is built on the real needs of Kansas agriculture producers and rural communities, while respecting hardworking taxpayers. This bill is grossly out of balance, with less than .5% of the money spent in this bill going to Kansas farmers while 99.5% would have gone elsewhere. I look forward to continuing to fight hard for Kansans and for real solutions that provide certainty for Kansas farmers without bankrupting our nation.