U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today responded after a new reform-driven Farm Bill failed to receive enough votes to pass the House.
Rep. Roby, who serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and has championed reforms to farm and food stamp policy, said failure to pass the bill was a "missed opportunity" to change the costly status quo.
"The spenders won. They dodged a major reform to the unrestrained government spending policies left over from the Pelosi Congress," Rep. Roby said. "For more than two years we've been working on a new Farm Bill that would meet this country's agricultural and economic needs while enacting long-needed reforms to farm and food stamp policy. While not perfect, the Farm Bill that died today represents a missed opportunity to save taxpayers $40 billion through responsible improvements to current law.
"Now, with no Farm Bill, costly programs like food stamps will continue with no savings at all, and that's a shame. "
The bill, officially known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013, included the first major reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, since the mid 1990s. Among them were:
- preventing illegal immigrants from fraudulently obtaining taxpayer-subsidized food stamps, a reform Rep. Roby has championed personally;
- eliminating the "categorical eligibility" loophole and reinstating asset and income tests for SNAP;
- preventing the federal and state governments from actively recruiting new food stamp recipients, and prohibiting advertisements for the program on TV, radio and billboards;
- improving accountability by demanding outcomes from employment and training services, and;
- eliminating "double dipping" by ensuring no food stamp recipient collects benefits in multiple states.
The House Farm Bill also attempted to make several significant reforms to federal agriculture policy, including:
- consolidating or eliminating more than 100 duplicative programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
- ending the practice of direct payments to farmers, opting instead for more planting flexibility to ensure producers are planting for market and agronomic conditions;
- 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 -- another reform proposed by Rep. Roby, and;
- several regulatory relief measures aimed to help mitigate the burdens that farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.
The House Agriculture Committee passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 in May on a bipartisan vote of 36-10.