After the defeat of the farm bill last month, many are beginning to wonder what will happen next.
The farm bill in effect expires in September, giving lawmakers some time to consider a repackaging of the bill. Some believe splitting the farm bill’s two main provisions—assistance for farmers and food stamps—into two, separate bills is the best solution for getting the bill to pass through both the Senate and the House.
In an interview, Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation’s policy specialist, argues that splitting the farm bill would make it more difficult for the bill to pass in the House.
“You’re looking at 435 members in the House, 25 percent of whom have zero farmers in their district. How does one go to the Hill and convince one of those members of Congress to support spending money for agriculture?”
The farm bill needs 218 votes to pass in the House. By alienating those who would support the bill for only its non-agricultural provisions, the chances of passing this bill are greatly reduced. A unified bill dissatisfies both political parties, but it contains provisions that both parties want to pass.
Thatcher explained, “We’re adamantly opposed to [a split bill] approach and, in fact, spearheaded a letter with the Farmers’ Union last week where 532 agriculture, crop insurance, conservation, research groups said, ‘Very bad idea.’”
As the expiration date of the current farm bill approaches, a new compromise between the parties is becoming necessary.