Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) released the following statement today after voting in support of H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, or FARRM Bill. The bill failed on passage, largely due to Democrat objections to major reforms and reductions made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), specifically an amendment that would allow states to apply welfare work requirements to the program. The bill would have provided much-needed support for Mississippi farmers while reducing overall farm policy spending and nutrition assistance by more than $40 billion.
"It's extremely disappointing to see so many colleagues put politics ahead of people and ahead of progress. The American agricultural industry is a crucial part of our economy. Today we had an opportunity to restore fiscal responsibility to the way we fund farmers and to make the most serious changes to public assistance since welfare reform was passed in 1996. Yet Democrats in the House chose to hold farmers hostage rather than concede states the option of work requirements for assistance or close loopholes on waste, fraud and abuse. American farmers and taxpayers deserve better."
Among reforms included in the bill, it would have eliminated direct payments to farmers, repealed and consolidated more than 100 government programs and saved more than $40 billion in overall spending, including $20.5 billion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program alone. These reforms represented a reduction of more than $16 billion over similar reductions in the Senate version of the bill.
The current authorization expires on September 30th at the end of the fiscal year. Absent reforms or reductions, no budget savings would be achieved beyond sequestration, from which the troubled SNAP program is exempt.