U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today applauded Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby for their votes against the Senate Farm Bill, which maintains a costly status quo in the government's food stamp program.
"I applaud Senator Shelby and Senator Sessions for voting against the food stamp-heavy Senate Farm Bill," Rep. Roby said. "They were right to oppose a bill that allows so much waste and fraud to continue unabated. While not perfect, the House version of the Farm Bill makes significant reforms to the food stamp program and contains $20 billion worth of cuts -- five times the amount cut in the Senate version.
"Agriculture is the top industry in Alabama's Second Congressional District, and I understand the need to pass a long-term Farm Bill to provide our farmers the certainty they deserve. However, we must ensure the bill contains the kind of reforms and cuts that show Congress is serious about changing the culture of spending and government dependence."
Passed by the House Committee on Agriculture last month, the House version of the Farm Bill, officially known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013, includes the first major reforms to the food stamp program since the mid 1990s. It saves American taxpayers more than $40 billion, half of which comes from the bloated food stamp program. The bill repeals or consolidates more than 100 government programs while also ending direct payments to farmers.
As a Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Rep. Roby was able to secure two major inclusions in the new Farm Bill:
* A provision preventing illegal immigrants from fraudulently obtaining federally subsidized food stamps, which Rep. Roby originally proposed in an amendment to the bill last year, and;
* A provision reducing the amount of land allowed into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), restricting the increasingly-frequent practice of paying landowners to let fertile cropland go unplanted for years. Rep. Roby introduced this reform as a standalone bill earlier this year.
The Senate version of the bill, which passed Monday night, contains only $400 million a year in food stamp cuts, a mere fraction of the House Farm Bill cuts, and would not prevent illegal immigrants from receiving the taxpayer-subsidized benefits. Rep. Roby said she looks forward to the House taking up this issue in the coming weeks.
"We'll soon have an opportunity to discuss the Farm Bill on the House floor, and I look forward to that debate. We have a unique chance to actually reform a mandatory spending program wrought with waste and fraud, and I believe it's a chance we can't pass up."