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Farm Bill defeated, leaving farm policy in limbo

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Farmers looking for direction from Washington about the country’s agriculture agenda will have to keep waiting.

The House of Representatives rejected a five-year Farm Bill today that totaled nearly a trillion dollars for nutrition and farm programs, including subsidies, conservation programs and crop insurance as well as other safety nets for the industry.

The bill would have cut funding for food stamps, which prompted U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to work against the bill’s passage. She said the bill would have cut $20.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over five years.

She issued this statement this afternoon: “Just as important as the health of our

agriculture industry, is the health and nutrition of our children and families. I am proud to see House Democrats stand strong and reject this draconian cut that would literally take food away from millions of those who desperately need it – from veterans and military families, to seniors living on fixed incomes, hungry children and struggling families who rely on SNAP to make ends meet.

“Families who are living in poverty – hungry children, seniors, troops and veteranswho are just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and put food on the table – they did not spend this nation into debt, and we should not be trying to balance the budget on their backs.They deserve better from this Congress.”

Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, is a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He supported the Farm Bill legislation.

He issued this statement: “Today’s unfortunate defeat of the House Farm Bill speaks to the dysfunction in Washington that continues to stand in the way of solving real problems for real Americans.

“Agriculture is a critical industry in New York’s 27th Congressional District, impacting our local residents far beyond those directly doing the hard work of farming.Our farmers and growers deserve a Congress that can come together and pass a long-term Farm Bill. It is essential to help our agricultural industry plan and prepare.

“As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I remain committed to the work ahead to see a Farm Bill become law.”

New York Farm Bureau wanted the proposal to pass. The organization released this statement: “It is with great disappointment that we watched House lawmakers defeat the 2013 Farm Bill. The farmers in this state deserve a reasonable farm policy that has been delayed for far too long.

“While there were concerns over certain provisions of the bill, we were hoping its passage and a vigorous debate in conference would reach an appropriate compromise that would provide a fair safety net for the people who produce healthy, local food and the consumers who need help putting it on their dinner tables. New York Farm Bureau will continue to work hard with the state’s Congressional delegation to do what is right for our farm families.”