February 9, 2016

$500 billion farm bill fails in U.S. House

Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) says he voted down a “flawed” and “inadequate” five-year farm bill that was “bad for farmers and bad for taxpayers.” The La Crosse Democrat, who represents one of the largest agricultural districts in the country, had offered an amendment on crop insurance reform.

“Under the current program, these crop insurance companies are guaranteed a 14 percent profit, they carry no risk, and the government pays for their administration and operating costs to administer the program. So, we offer that deal to no other business in America and it should not be in the farm bill.”

Kind says the $500 billion farm bill didn’t include the type of reform that would be more fiscally responsible and more responsive to the needs of family farmers. “They were also calling for deep, draconian cuts to the nutrition program that would have affected a lot of low-income children who need that assistance right now, while loading up on taxpayer subsidies and large agribusiness and that wasn’t fair.”

The bill would slash food stamp benefits by $20.5 billion over the next ten years. The average nationwide weekly benefit for someone on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) is $31.50, which breaks down to $4.50 per day and $1.50 per meal.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) says this legislation criminalizes poverty, humiliates millions of people and removes food assistance from the working poor, hungry children and seniors.

U.S. Representative Mark Pocan lived on a food stamp budget for a week to raise awareness about the SNAP program and the challenges many Americans face.

Kind says the “overwhelming ‘no’ vote” is an indication that lawmakers have to return with a revised farm bill, he says, one that’s more responsive to the needs of family farmers.

The bill failed today in the House on Thursday by a vote of 234-195.

U.S. Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) were among 62 Republicans to oppose the farm bill.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:39

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