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Close vote moves Farm Bill to Senate

Close vote moves Farm Bill to Senate

Ag groups urge the Senate to pass the bill next week

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The House of Representatives narrowly approved the 2018 Farm Bill, sending the document to the Senate for further review.

The bill passed by a vote of 213 to 211 and puts The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 one step closer to becoming a law. The Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September.

The US$867-billion piece of legislation includes $450 million to improve the USDA’s ability to identify and respond to animal disease outbreaks, allows for commercial hemp production and creates new risk management products.

Many ag groups applauded the House’s decision to move ahead with the 2018 farm bill.

“Our grassroots Farm Bureau members clearly made their voices heard,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement yesterday. “By approving the 2018 Farm Bill today, members of the House recognized the serious economic challenges facing farmers and ranchers across the country.”

“Today’s vote is a big step forward to seeing a new farm bill this year,” Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said in a release yesterday. “The House farm bill maintains a robust crop insurance program, ensuring it continues to be a viable risk management tool for farmers across the country.”

But the adjustments to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may prevent the bill from passing quickly in the Senate. Annually, over 42 million Americans use the program.

Changes to SNAP include establishing a 20-hour-per-week work requirement for adults without dependents or disabilities.

The work requirements are beneficial for program users, Republicans say.

"This bill includes critical reforms to nutrition benefits that close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and encourage people to move from welfare to work, so more Americans have the opportunity to tap into the economic prosperity we're seeing right now,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement yesterday.

Democrats, however, feel putting a work mandate on SNAP users “worsens hunger” and “fails rural communities,” Rep. Collin Peterson from Minnesota, said in a statement Thursday.

“The only upside to (the bill’s) passage is that we’re one step closer to conference, where it’s my hope that cooler heads can and will prevail.”

The Senate ag committee passed its own version of the Farm Bill on June 13. That bill does not include work requirements.

Legislators must find a compromise before sending a finished bill to the President for his signature.

rarrarorro/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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