Farm groups are scrambling to react to the unusual move Republicans in the U.S. House made this week, bringing an ultra-slim version of the Farm Bill up for a vote and passing it.
Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says not only did the bill leave out “food stamps” and other federal nutrition programs, it repeals the original 1949 legislation on which all future Farm Bills have been based.
“Now if you take away the ’49 Act, we no longer have this safety net, this discipline that we will amend and correct the Farm Bill each five to seven years, so it’s a very big concern,” Hill says.
Some speculate congress would never again pass a Farm Bill if the 1949 legislation is repealed.
As for splitting the Farm Bill, Hill says farmers and ranchers had depended on their alliance with urban lawmakers interested in federal food and nutrition programs and the House plan undermines that coalition.
“We in agriculture — we promote food. We are the food producers, so it’s not only tradition but it’s natural that we would be tied together in a food bill — the Farm Bill,” Hill says. “The Farm Bill is 80 percent, as far as expense or financial outlay, food stamps today, but still we hope to remain tied and together in order to have the influence we need to serve rural America.”
Current federal farm policies are set to expire on September 30th. Hill says Thursday’s action from House Republicans has created a “mood of uncertainty for Iowa farmers” and created “long-term harm to rural America.”
“We are in a little bit of a predicament,” Hill says. “We have to find a pathway to get a Farm Bill complete and we have a very short time frame to get that done.”
Hill raises grain and livestock on a farm near Milo.
More than 530 U.S. farm organizations were registered as opposed to the whittled down Farm Bill that House Republicans passed Thursday. No Democrat in the U.S. House voted for it, and a dozen Republicans voted against it, too. Iowa’s two Republican congressmen did vote for the down-sized Farm Bill, but both Tom Latham and Steve King said they were “disappointed” House leaders chose to split the Farm Bill.