October 30, 2014

Nebraska rancher gets to see Farm Bill chaos in person (AUDIO)

A short trip to Washington has a big impact on a Panhandle rancher, who got to observe first-hand the chaos that produced a scaled down farm bill in the House.

Tim Hruby has a cow-calf operation in Hemingford. He went to the nation’s capital this week as part of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee annual Washington, D.C. trip.

This year, the trip was anything but routine.

This year, the Nebraska delegation arrived in Washington as the House decided to resurrect the five-year farm bill that failed last month.

Hruby says House leadership felt confident it could secure enough votes for passage after splitting agriculture policy from the food stamp program. Then, worries grew that the strategy wouldn’t work.

“In about a 24-hour period that thing completely flip-flopped around and went all sorts of different directions,” Hruby tells the Nebraska Radio Network.

The tactic did work, barely.

A scaled-down bill, containing only agricultural policy squeezed to passage on a 216-208 vote. No Democrats voted for the measure, angered at the absence of the food stamp program, which Republicans had proposed cutting in the bill that failed last month.

Still, the narrowly-focused bill goes to the Senate with House Republican leaders promising to take up food stamps in separate legislation.

Hruby says it might not have been pretty, but it was fascinating.

“I wish everybody who has a little bit of interest in politics or just kind of wonders how it happens could experience that.”

The Farm Bill failed to pass last year when House leadership refused to bring to the floor legislation approved by the House Agriculture Committee. The Senate had passed its version earlier. An attempt to pass a message last month failed in the House. The current legislation was extended. It expires at the end of September.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]