Rod Blum (file photo)

The U.S. House and Senate have each passed their versions of the next Farm Bill and now a conference committee of members from each chamber will meet to come up with a final version. Republican Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque is hoping a work requirement for welfare that passed the House winds up in the final Farm Bill agreement.

“For the first time in our nation’s history we have more job openings than we have people applying for them,” Blum said earlier this week in Manchester. “It’s a great problem to have, but it’s still a problem and so we need welfare reform and in the Farm Bill that the House passed it says if you’re between 18 and 59 years old and you’re mentally and physically able to work and you don’t have a young child in your home, you should be be looking for a job or working or increasing your job skills, like at a community college.”

Blum, though, expects that proposal will be left out of the Farm Bill’s final version, since it was not included in the Senate’s draft of the Farm Bill. Blum said he’s hoping for congressional action to increase the number of temporary visas for agricultural workers.

“We need more legal immigration,” Blum said. “We need more people. We need more bodies and I think we can get them through welfare reform and immigraton reform.”

Blum said the Farm Bill that cleared the U.S. House in early July “maintains a strong crop insurance program” and encourages expansion of rural broadband infrastructure.

(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)