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Two NY Congressmen Continue Pushing For A Farm Bill

Michael Cannon, flickr

The five-year Farm Bill was defeated Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 234-195. Two Congressmen from the Hudson Valley share a similar goal with the federal Farm Bill, yet voted differently.

Republican Congressman Chris Gibson and Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney sit on the House Agriculture Committee, and while both voted to advance the bill from there in May, they cast different votes Thursday. Gibson voted in favor of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management, or FARRM, Act of 2013, and says he was disappointed with the outcome.

Speaking on the House floor shortly after voting against the Act, Maloney expressed frustration.

Maloney is referring to the Southerland Amendment, introduced by Republican Florida Congressman Steve Southerland, which would empower states with the option of requiring work programs for food stamp recipients. Another addition pertains to eliminating dairy subsidies. Maloney says he was ready to cast a “yes” vote before what he called these last-minute draconian Tea Party amendments. Gibson says that if the bill has another shot, ditching the Southerland Amendment could be a way to go, and he is optimistic a compromise can be reached. Here’s Gibson.

He refers to House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, Republican from Oklahoma. Again, here’s Maloney.

One thing he does not support is a $20.5 billion cut over 10 years to the food stamp program known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. However, he says he was ready to vote for the Farm Bill with this cut until the 11th hour so-called poison pill amendments were delivered.  Both he and Gibson say the SNAP cut should be significantly lower, but the bill needs to be advanced before working this out.

Maloney also wants to see the Farm Bill get to conference, as he said on the House floor.

The Senate passed its version last week, which contains about $4 billion in cuts to SNAP over 10 years. Gibson foresees winding up near $8 billion, or $9 billion, given certain reforms, or what he calls program integrity, and the underlying bill authorization amount.

Meanwhile, the debate continues, as many House Democrats want little, if any, cut to SNAP, and more conservative Republicans want even deeper cuts.

Elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who opposes SNAP cuts, voted against the bill.

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