July 11, 2013

House Passes Partial Farm Bill, Creating Further Uncertainty in Already Complex Process

Statement by Daniel Brito, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (July 11, 2013) – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a version of the Farm Bill that does not contain a Nutrition Title. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, is the primary component of the Nutrition Title and the source of much contention during the Farm Bill negotiations. Passing a Farm Bill without a Nutrition Title is unprecedented. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, today’s vote in the House will only inject more uncertainly into an already tenuous process.

Below is a statement by Daniel Brito, Senior Washington Representative for UCS’ Food & Environment Program:

“UCS cannot support a bill that abandons a comprehensive approach to farm and food policy. However, with the current Farm Bill extension expiring on September 30, 2013, there isn’t time to waste. House majority leadership should refute published reports that they may delay the appointment of conferees by moving immediately to conference. Hopefully, taking this bill to conference will resolve the significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

“Today’s move by the House – passing a bill that is missing major portions of legislation already passed by the Senate—could be viewed by Senate leaders as forfeiting their chance to amend this part of the Farm Bill. Essentially, this could be game over for the House. Recently, however, the House majority’s actions suggest that they are no longer playing by traditional rules and it could be anyone’s game.

“The best of all possible scenarios is that the bill coming out of conference includes incentives for increased production of fruits and vegetables. Current farm policies make the wrong foods cheaper. The government invests billions to grow commodity crops, like corn, which become ingredients in junk foods, animal feed, and fuel. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables—the very foods we should eat more of—receive little support. In addition to creating a comprehensive Farm Bill that incentivizes the production of healthy foods and farms and includes a Nutrition Title, the legislation that results from conference should begin to reorient our nation’s farm policies in a healthier direction.”