In total, 100 Members changed their vote between the two roll calls: 77 Members went from opposing the farm bill (or not voting) to supporting it and 23 Members changed from supporting the bill to opposing it. In our previous posts (here and here) in this series, we discussed how the current political climate created a difficult environment for building the coalition needed to pass a farm bill. The conference report demonstrates that coalition building in action as leaders on both sides of the aisle gathered enough support to pass it. The table below provides an initial overview of the characteristics of the 77 Members who changed from opposing the initial farm bill to supporting the final bill.
Of the votes that changed in favor of the farm bill, 63 were Democrats (82%) and 14 were Republicans (18%). In contrast, all 23 votes that moved to opposing the farm bill were Republicans. Looking at the regional shifts in voting and support, 15 Members from the Northeast changed in favor of the farm bill (19%), followed by 12 Members in the Pacific region (16%), 11 in the Southeast (14%), and 10 in the Corn Belt (13%). Finally, of the 77 Members who switched to supporting the farm bill, 41 of the districts could be classified as rural (53%), and 22 could be classified as urban (29%). For classification of rural and urban district, see this previous post.
Additional analysis of each district and the reasons behind the Representative's voting decision is needed to gain a better understanding of all the dynamics involved. For example, additional work could focus on the level of SNAP participation in each district, as well as looking for other factors that drove the decision to support the farm bill. Looking at the 14 Republican votes that changed in favor of the farm bill and the 23 that changed in opposition would also enhance the understanding of this farm bill's dynamics. In sum, however, we can see that much of the change in support from the farm bill came from Representatives in the Democratic Party, the coastal regions of the country, and rural areas.
In the common law of torts, there is a Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur that roughly translated means "the thing speaks for itself" and it seems particularly appropriate here. The 2014 Farm Bill's long, difficult journey ended successfully because a significant number of Representatives changed their support for the bill based on the compromises produced in conference negotiations between the House and Senate. The most substantial compromise in conference was likely that involving SNAP. The lessons of this farm bill add weight to the wisdom behind the coalition begun in 1973 between farm safety net support and food assistance for low income Americans. A farm bill without either of those pillars is unlikely to become law.
Source: Farmdoc Daily- University of Illinois