Tipton: U.S. House missed
opportunity on farm bill

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Thursday, the House rejected the “Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act” (HR 1947) – the 2013 “Farm Bill”.  The tally final was 234-195 (172 Democrats and 62 Republicans voting “Nay”).

For Scott Tipton (“Tipton:  U.S. House missed opportunity on farm bill”) – and for those of his fellow-members on the House Agriculture Committee who would have received some $300,000 each had it passed (one of whom has already received over $3+ million under existing farm subsidy programs)—that vote was undoubtedly a “disappointment”.

While the House version of the 2013 Farm Bill would have “saved” $40 billion over ten years, $20+ billion came from cutting the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (“SNAP”)(“Food Stamps”) by lowering allowable income thresholds – thereby depriving an estimated two million recipients (mostly women and children) of needed assistance.

Food Stamp eligibility criteria were expanded to current levels in 2003 and renewed in 2008 – both with broad bipartisan support under “compassionate conservative” George Bush.  As the CBO reports, Food Stamps are the most cost-effective and “job-creating” component of the “social safety net” – because every dollar returns to the economy, administrative overhead is minimal, and outlays shrink as recovery raises incomes.

House Democrats opposed Tipton’s favored version – and President Obama threatened to veto it—because it cut Food Stamps too much, given current levels of unemployment. 

The House Republican “Tea Party” caucus – apparently still clinging to the Romney-Ryan myth that Food Stamp “takers” are shiftless minorities rather than white working single mothers and the elderly—opposed it for not cutting Food Stamps enough.

Republicans also rejected amendments that would have precluded members of the House Ag Committee from receiving direct payments, and/or would have limited eligibility for subsidies to farms generating less than $250,000 (instead of $750,000) in net revenues.

Absent compromise with the Senate, we will automatically revert to the 1949 Farm Bill!

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