Congressman Adrian Smith says the House missed a real opportunity to approve reforms to the Farm Bill.
The House approved a farm bill of sorts, barely.
The legislation that squeezed by in the House contained only farm policy. An earlier attempt to approve a traditional bill failed when conservatives criticized the $20 billion in cuts to the food stamp program as too little and liberals complained they were too much. The coalition broke apart and the bill failed, leading to the unorthodox method of passage.
The Senate bill would cut $4 billion from the food stamp program over the next ten years.
Smith says liberals in Congress oppose any cuts to the growing food stamp program, which should reach $1 trillion over the next decade.
“That flies in the face of common sense in terms of what needs to be done in making sure that the nutrition program integrity remains intact so that those folks who need access to the benefits will maintain that access,” Smith tells reporters in a conference call.
Smith says he favored deeper cuts to the food stamp program, but worries that the action taken by the House will leave the nutrition program virtually untouched.
Meanwhile, the House bill moves agricultural policy away from direct payments toward a risk-management model through crop insurance.
The action the House took leaves the process in an uncertain position.
Smith says the House could move forward and begin negotiations with the Senate when Congress returns in September, even without approving the nutrition language, which accounts for 80% of the Farm Bill.
The way forward might be a bit murky, but Congress must move forward, according to Smith.
“We need to do our work and it takes time. It requires diligence and we need to focus on that diligence to get the job done.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]