Nutrition cuts weren’t the only thing dividing Congress on the Farm Bill. Despite a severe drought and sense of urgency to deal with disaster relief aid for farmers, the House and Senate also failed to agree on an aid package for drought relief. House Republicans proposed a one-year extension (H.R. 6228) in order to move the Farm Bill forward before the August recess, but did not get support from farmers or nutrition advocates for the plan. On July 26, House Republicans decoupled the farm bill from the disaster relief aid, pushing the Farm Bill to the sidelines and passing an aid-only bill instead (H.R. 6233).This House tactic could have forced the Senate to pass a bill before recess began, but Senate Democrats refused to take up the stand-alone bill because of many dividing factors. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that she would not pass a bill that only covers help for some producers. In particular she was concerned that the aid package did not include fruit and vegetable growers and dairy producers, many of whom are her constituents. The House-passed aid bill would cut the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by $639 million, providing $383 million to disaster aid and using the remainder for deficit reduction. Farm groups are concerned that this would just add to the cuts they are already expecting in a new Farm Bill. Some were also concerned that passing a short-term measure might delay a long-term, comprehensive bill.
It is unclear how the House and Senate will come to agreement on an extension of the Farm Bill before it expires but Chairwoman Stabenow has reiterated her commitment to working out a deal before the end of September. Agriculture Committee leaders could bypass House floor action, write their own compromise bill and attach it to “must-pass” legislation, but it is unlikely that this process will occur because Stabenow has said that the House must take action on the Farm Bill before a deal can be struck.
4. Summer reading - Ending Childhood Hunger in America: Here are seven great writings/brief reflections from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity that are worth the time to download to your Ipad or smart phone and take to the beach (just two pages each!). http://spotlightonpoverty.org/spotlight-exclusives/a-new-exclusive-commentary-series-ending-childhood-hunger-in-america/ Thanks to Dr. Deborah Frank, Vicky Escarra, Jim Weill, Billy Shore, David Beckmann, Joel Berg and Jane Stenson for their unwavering advocacy and inspiring words!
The NEXT Food SNAP Coalition Meeting is Tuesday, September 25th from 10 to Noon at St Francis House. There is NO meeting in August.
Enjoy the rest of Summer !