A new federal Farm Bill passed out of the all-important Agriculture Committee in the U-S House Wednesday over objections of key Democrats including Minnesota’s Collin Peterson. The 7th District Congressman and his Democratic colleagues have sent a letter to the White House asking that additional money be permanently available for crop insurance, given the trade dispute with China. Peterson says, “I really am worried about this, and this is a self-inflicted wound that we frankly don’t need, and if we get into this situation we don’t need a one-time bailout.” He says proposed changes to the SNAP Food Stamp program reflect the same “ideological crusade” that killed the Farm Bill in 2013. Texas Republican Mike Conaway responds the changes to SNAP have been blown out of proportion. Peterson says he can’t guarantee a single Democratic vote, but there’s still time to work together and find a solution that works for everyone.
Excerpts from Peterson’s remarks in committee:
Statements from Congressmen Tim Walz and Rick Nolan:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) released the following statement after voting against the partisan Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) before the House Committee on Agriculture:
“I represent the ninth largest agricultural-producing district in the nation. I came to Congress in part to help write Farm Bills. I came to Congress to try and get policy right. I came to work together with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. What Republicans did today – namely, bringing an ideological bill up for consideration that lacked bipartisan support, failed to go through the regular committee process, and abandoned our farmers, consumers, veterans and children in the process – is not how this committee has normally functioned. It is not how this committee is supposed to function. It is not how a democracy is supposed to function.
“Instead of supporting farmers’ conservation efforts by enhancing programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) as my SOIL Stewardship Act would do, Republicans voted to cut working lands programs and eliminate CSP. Instead of investing in our small town businesses and rural communities, Republicans voted to eliminate the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Instead of doing all they can to help facilitate the transfer of skills, knowledge and land between current and future generations of producers as my Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act would do, Republicans failed to scale up and permanently reauthorize the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Perhaps most indefensibly, instead of strengthening and making commonsense improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – the most effective anti-hunger program in U.S. history and a source of economic vitality in southern Minnesota – Republicans voted to risk creating barriers to access for veterans and children who rely on the program, which helps keep 16,000 veterans from going to bed hungry in Minnesota alone.
“This committee used to set an example for how things are supposed to be done in Washington. Today, Republicans chose to follow the lead of Speaker Ryan and steamrolled the bipartisan process we once championed. Still, I believe this committee has the capacity to change how things are done in Washington, but if Republicans don’t set aside their ideological differences, reject the outside influence of powerful political donors, and work together with Democrats on areas where we agree, it will do nothing more than propel the toxic culture in Congress.
“Folks back home in the First District are fed up with the hyper-partisanship in D.C. What they want is for us to work together to get things done, and I’ve tried to live up to this reasonable expectation every single day. At such a critical time in our democracy, I ask Chairman Conaway and the rest of my Republican colleagues on the House Committee on Agriculture to consider this as we move forward: if we don’t fix the problem of partisanship plaguing Washington, who will?”
Rep. Nolan Calls on House Agriculture Committee to Halt Attacks on SNAP Provisions in Farm Bill
Drafted in secret, behind closed doors, the GOP measure would drastically undermine the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – which 46 million low-income and disabled Americans – along with thousands of military Veterans and military families – count on to fend off hunger and malnutrition;
[WASHINGTON D.C.] U.S. Rep Rick Nolan, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, today called on Republican leaders to halt their partisan attacks on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vital to some 46 million Americans.
Following today’s committee passage of the measure, which was drafted in secret with virtually no input from Democrats, Nolan issued the following statement:
“It is unfortunate and disturbing that my Republican colleagues have chosen to undermine our Nation’s traditionally bipartisan Farm Bill with a partisan assault on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that some 46 million Americans – including thousands of military Veterans and military families – depend on to prevent hunger and malnutrition.
“The so-called “work requirements” added to the bill are a bureaucratic nightmare and a misuse of the hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost states to administer that should be used to aid the hundreds of thousands of food-insecure Minnesotans across our state. Moreover, this attack on the SNAP program threatens the historic partnership between rural food producers and urban food consumers that has made passage of a Farm Bill in both the House and the Senate possible for decades.
“Furthermore, in addition to supporting the SNAP food and nutrition program, the purpose of the Farm Bill is to provide a strong safety net for farmers during hard times, encourage young farmers, and bolster rural communities and small businesses. This Republican measure fails in every respect, and I will be joining my colleagues to make every effort to significantly improve this measure when it goes to the House floor for further consideration.”