The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act. The legislation will authorize agriculture programs under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), including programs to assist farmers and ranchers. Congressman Westmoreland supported the bill.
"The agriculture industry remains the largest industry in the state of Georgia and the largest industry in the country," stated Westmoreland. "That's because everyone eats -- so everyone relies on the agriculture industry. Our nation's farmers and ranchers provide the American people with the safest, cheapest, and most diverse food supply in the world. And through the real reforms enacted in this legislation, the FARRM Act will save American taxpayers approximately $20 billion in mandatory spending, a dramatic improvement over the 2008 spending levels when the legislation was passed under a Democratic-controlled House. In fact, these cuts represent the most significant reform to farm policy in our nation's history."
In an effort to pass an authorization bill that focuses specifically on the agriculture industry, House Republicans divided the farm bill into two sections: one that covers commodity programs and one that covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). H.R. 2642 focused on commodity programs, streamlining the agriculture industry and ending direct payments to farmers. In addition, the legislation establishes itself as the "safety net' in case future farm bills expire without a new one to take its place. Currently, if a farm bill expires before a new one is passed, we revert back to 1938 and 1949 farm law, which uses extremely outdated information causing prices to double in some cases.
"Over time our farm bills have become less about farmers and ranchers and more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP," stated Westmoreland. "In fact, over the last ten years, spending on the SNAP program alone has grown by 270 percent. A farm bill should focus on farmers and ranchers, and that's why I support this legislation. It puts the farm back into the farm bill, while at the same time making important changes to cut unnecessary spending and streamline our agriculture programs. I commend Chairman Lucas and the Agriculture Committee for their hard work on this legislation."
The House plans to address nutrition assistance programs at a later time. By separating the bills, the House can implement further reforms to our nutrition programs. Once both bills are passed, House and Senate negotiators will meet to hammer out the differences and come up with a Conference Report for both chambers to vote on.