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Mixed Reaction from Farm and Food Advocates to Farm Bill Failure

WAMC/Pat Bradley

The failure of the federal Farm Bill has upset members of the agriculture community as uncertainty over the fate of key provisions remains.  The bill also funds nutrition programs, and with deep cuts proposed to the food stamp program, hunger advocates are relieved.

The Farm Bill was supposed to be passed last September, but House inaction led to an extension of provisions in the 2008 farm bill for one year. On Thursday, the farm bill was defeated in the House. Some blame the varied amendments that were offered, and in some cases passed. One such measure was the Goodlatte Amendment, which stripped the bill of the proposed Dairy Market Stabilization Program - a supply management scheme that Vermont Farm Bureau President Clark Hinsdale says dairy farmers across the country spent years formulating.

New York Farm Bureau Spokesman Steve Ammerman explains that any current agricultural programs will continue under the farm bill extension, but most expire at the end of September. He says that means Congress is now running against the clock.

Vermont Farm Bureau President Clark Hinsdale is anxious to find out if the House will take the bill back up in the agriculture committee, because many programs may end up in limbo.

Hinsdale says the added uncertainty from Washington makes the business of farming more difficult.

The Farm Bill is also the primary funding mechanism for nutrition programs, including SNAP, or food stamps. Some votes were lost due to billions of dollars in cuts to the program. Other votes were lost when Florida  Republican Steve Southerland offered an amendment, which passed, that gave states the right to require recipients to work to obtain benefits.

Hunger Free Vermont Executive Director Marissa Parisi says while she’s sympathetic to farmers, she and other hunger advocates are relieved that the House bill was rejected.

Hunger Action Network of New York State Executive Director Mark Dunlea says the deep proposed cuts in both the House and Senate were upsetting.

The farm bill is also the largest source of funding for conservation programs and water supply protection.

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