Surprise is a mild term to use for reaction to the defeat of the Farm Bill in the United States House.
Jordan Dux, Director of National Affairs for the Nebraska Farm Bureau, says the 195-234 defeat of the Farm Bill in the House Thursday shocked him and those he spoke with in Washington immediately after the vote.
“They haven’t seen anything like this,” Dux tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “A farm bill has not gone down on the House floor in this fashion before. So, it was a little bit of a shock to a lot of people. Now, we’re trying to pick up the pieces, let the dust settle and see if we can work on these issues.”
A food fight doomed the bill. More specifically, a fight over just how deeply to cut the food stamp program doomed the bill.
The House bill would have cut $20 billion from the $75 billion program. That wasn’t a deep enough cut for some Republicans who joined most of the House Democrats who thought the cuts were too deep to defeat the bill. The bill approved by the Senate would cut the program by $4 billion.
The food stamp program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has become a major issue. It and other nutrition programs make up 80% of the Farm Bill with the remaining 20% actual agriculture policy. The cost of the program has risen 140% since 1990 and now, approximately 15% of the country receives food stamps.
Dux says Republicans and Democrats in the House will have to let the dust settle before they can move forward.
“Folks pointing fingers at the other and saying the reason this didn’t pass was because of you guys and the other side said the exact same thing. They’re going to have to let some tempers cool down for a while before we get this thing back,” according to Dux.
Dux says the failure of the legislation leaves Nebraska farmers playing the waiting game.
AUDIO: Jordan Dux with the Nebraska Farm Bureau speaks with Kevin Thomas on KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln. [10 min.]