Groups Call for Farm Bill Spit

With the failure of the 2012 Farm Bill still fresh, some farm organizations are calling on splitting the farm bill’s agricultural elements from its nutritional elements in the hope that it will better protect farm interests in future bills.

Since last spring, the farm bill has been held up in the House and Senate, with politicians on both sides of the aisle willing to praise the farm sector, but unwilling to take action on vital farm legislation. While some major progress was made in the summer, with both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passing versions of the bill, GOP leadership blocked a floor vote in the House.

One of the major areas of disagreement revolved around funding for the Food Stamps program and other nutritional programs. Republicans in the House were eager to slash nutritional aid, significantly increasing spending cuts on food stamps in their version of the bill, and were willing to let the farm bill fall by the wayside in order to achieve these cuts.

In the wake of this partisan fight, some farm advocates are floating an idea to decouple the farm bill from nutritional programs (which were joined in the 60s to both improve social safety nets and boost agricultural sales), arguing that an agricultural bill on its own would have an easier time getting passed.

Other groups, however, argue that combining farm interests with nutritional spending strengthens a weakening political coalition in Congress, united rural politicians with their urban colleagues by combining interests important to their respective constituents.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer