Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson admits the failure of the Farm Bill Friday came as a surprise.
“We had good indicators that the Farm Bill was in a position to pass through the House,” Nelson tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “So, that was our expectation. As it turned out of course, that did not happen.”
Nelson was in Washington, D.C. when the bill failed on a 198-to-213 vote.
A variety of reasons have been given for the legislation’s failure, but the defeat came when enough Republicans defected, because they wanted a vote on immigration first. The entire Democratic Caucus voted against the bill over objections to work provisions tied to SNAP, the food stamp program. The combination doomed the bill.
Nelson says he still hopes for passage this year, rather than an extension of the current Farm Bill.
“It’s almost become a rule of thumb that the Farm Bill gets extended,” according to Nelson. “That would certainly not be our first choice. Farmers and ranchers are in some pretty tight economic circumstances right now.”
Nelson says an extension of current agricultural policy creates uncertainty at a time when farmers and ranchers face enough difficulty. Nelson says the House Farm Bill contained strong provisions for crop insurance, conservation, and trade.
Efforts are underway to revive the legislation and have the House vote on the measure again.
Mark Vail, KLIN, contributed to this story.