U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today voted against the latest version of the House Farm Bill. The bill separates food assistance programs from agricultural provisions resulting in legislation even more flawed than the Farm Bill that was rejected by the House last month, and was also presented under a closed rule which effectively shut down debate and denied any opportunity to amend the bill.
"This bill, like the one rejected last month, failed to include the type of reform needed to make our agriculture policies more fiscally responsible and responsive to the needs of farmers," said Rep. Kind. "I attempted to include those reforms in this new bill, but was shut out from the process by a House majority more interested in appeasing big agribusiness than in protecting taxpayers and family farmers."
By stripping out the Farm Bill's customary food assistance programs, House Republicans put millions of children, seniors and other Americans in jeopardy of losing benefits that help provide them with food. Splitting the Farm Bill came as a result of partisan elements in the House Majority who generally oppose the idea of federal food assistance and have been working to get rid of the programs entirely.
This is the first time in over four decades that a Farm Bill has come to the floor under a completely closed rule, and the first time in history that such a bill comes to the floor with no legislative hearing or markup. The 600-page legislation was rushed to the floor late last night without enough time for Members to read and review it.
Due to the closed rule, the crop insurance reform offered by Rep. Kind and narrowly defeated during debate on the last Farm Bill was not even brought to a vote. Kind's amendment would have reformed our current crop insurance policies to save taxpayers $11 billion over 10 years while still providing a strong safety net for family farmers.
"The last thing our farmers need to contend with is a dysfunctional Congress playing political games with their livelihood," concluded Kind. "Our farmers need a comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill, and families in every community across this country need access to basic nutrition. This bill failed on both counts."