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Farm Bill Split Appears on the Horizon

House leaders appear to be inching closer to splitting the House Farm Bill into two pieces one for food, one for farms

Published on: Jul 10, 2013

House leaders this week appear to be setting the House up for more action on the Farm Bill, this time with the bill in two pieces – one for farms, the other for food.

Political outlets are reporting that a vote may come later this week, though House schedules do not reflect any time on the docket.

House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., reportedly approved a split Tuesday, noting he would support the move if the required votes could be achieved.

Supporters of splitting the bill say the action could overcome the partisan wrangling that plagued the Farm Bill the when it came to the floor – and failed to pass – in June. Most speculate its final blow was a difference of opinion between Republican lawmakers who pushed for more cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs and Democrats who felt the cuts to SNAP were too steep.

House leaders appear to be inching closer to splitting the House Farm Bill into two pieces – one for food, one for farms
House leaders appear to be inching closer to splitting the House Farm Bill into two pieces – one for food, one for farms

The nutrition title accounts for about 80% of the bill's funding.

Rep. Marlin Stuzman, R-Ind., has long pushed for splitting the bill. In a Monday Wall Street Journal editorial, Stutzman said the Farm Bill as it stands represents an "unholy alliance" between food stamps and agriculture.

"Instead of combining farm policy, food stamps, telecommunications, energy, forestry and conservation into a single legislative vehicle, we must begin advancing one issue at a time," Stuzman wrote. "Even Americans with differing views on the role of the federal government in U.S. agriculture should agree that any farm bill passed by Congress be a farm-only bill."

Stuzman argued that the rising number of Americans on food benefits could be countered by splitting the bill and considering SNAP legislation separately.

"Taxpayers deserve an honest conversation about how Washington spends their money and that won’t happen as long as Congress expands the food stamp program under the guise of a Farm Bill," he noted in a statement Tuesday.

But some lawmakers oppose the move. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told The Hill that splitting the bill could garner more votes, but could potentially kill the bill in conference with the Senate.

Peterson referenced the more than 500 groups that signed on to a letter last week urging House leadership to avoid splitting the bill, which noted that farm bills represent a balance between farm, nutrition and conservation priorities.

"We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing, and urge you to move a unified farm bill forward," the groups wrote.

Read more on the House Farm Bill
House Dems Introduce Senate Farm Bill
Ag Interests React To House Defeat of Farm Bill
House Rejects Farm Bill 195-234
House Works To Hammer Farm Bill Home
House Rules Committee Preps Farm Bill

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Common Sense would suggest splitting the bill as Rep. Stuzman proposes. Those not wanting to split the bill are worried they would loose their leverage to keep programs such a 'food stamps' in tact. I vote for Common Sense!!

    • Chris Pawelski of http://muckville.com says:

      I think the Ranking Member put it quite well. If you are a farmer you should not be happy about the splitting off of the Food Nutrition Title: http://democrats.agriculture.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1181

    • Tom in IN says:

      "Common Sense" - and both Testaments of the Bible - would suggest making sure OUR People are fed adequately, especially since they are paying the price for the malfeasance of the Bush Admin, Congresses and Financial Sector that caused this 2nd Great Depression.

    • Chris Pawelski of http://about.me/chris_pawelski says:

      Common sense in this circumstance is dead wrong. There was a reason why Bob Dole and George McGovern combined the two. A stand alone farm measure may, may, may pass this House (and that outcome is not a certainty) but down the road, especially if the dems re-take the House, neither the 5 year ag stand alone Farm Bill nor the annual ag approp bills stand much of a chance of passing. Tell me, what will be the incentive for urban legislators, especially pissed off urban legislators if the stand alone food nutrition bill either does not pass or is heavily cut, to vote for it? Mark my words, this is an incredibly short-sighted and politically stupid move designed for a potential short term political gain. And down the road people will regret this.

      • Chris Pawelski of http://about.me/chris_pawelski says:

        And by the way, it's Stutzman, not Stuzman, who has all of a little over 2 years experience on the Hill. I typically do not defer to the "common sense" of someone that obviously lacks relevant experience as well as significant institutional memories.