This afternoon the House of Representatives failed to pass a farm bill.
After lengthy debates over the past few days and with thousands upon thousands of farmers and food advocates weighing in, the bill was shot down by a vote of 195-234. Several contentious amendments in the final hours, including a major change to SNAP benefits, helped to seal the bill’s fate.
So are we back where we were on New Years Eve?
Yes, this moment does have a fair amount of deja vu, doesn’t it? We’ve stalled out once more, just as happened last fall. It remains to be seen what will happen next – the process may return to committee, talk of another extension may resurface, or some other path.
Ag Committee Chairman Lucas hinted that time is running short to try again, but other Representatives expressed hope that the House would take it up again next week. We’ll have a better sense once more information from this surprising turn of events filters down from Congress.
Picking up the pieces and moving forward
In the mean time, though, we can look over debates from the past two days to learn from our victories and strengthen our position.
Due in part to emails and calls from countless NYFC members and other advocates, we were thrilled to see the Fortenberry amendment #93 pass – this amendment would have closed subsidy loopholes that allow mega-farms to collect unlimited payments and crowd out beginning farmers. Instead, that money could go to farms and farmers working to improve the food system. We were also heartened to see the McClintock amendment #92 get soundly rejected – this amendment would have eliminated the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, a program that boosts farmer income and improves consumer access to healthy food.
With the failure of the Farm Bill as a whole, these amendments are also temporarily scrapped. Nonetheless, having these votes on record will be a huge help in future advocacy efforts, and we want to thank everyone who took the time to send a message to their legislator.
Stay tuned for more analysis and news on what comes next!