WASHINGTON (June 20, 2013) — “The House did the American people a true injustice today,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said after learning that the legislative body failed to pass the Farm Bill in a 195-234 vote.
The Grange, America’s oldest agriculture and rural advocacy group, has been a significant supporter of the bill that Luttrell said would have offered stability to one of the nation’s leading industries.
“Last year’s extension of the Farm Bill was extremely disappointing to the ag community and the House’s failure to pass the bill today just deepens this frustration,” Luttrell said. “The Farm Bill isn’t just about farming and agriculture. It’s about jobs, energy, and our nation’s overall recovery in this still struggling economy. One in 12 American jobs depend upon agriculture and without the strength and stability provided by the Farm Bill, our nation’s farmers and ranchers will be unable to make rational, informed decisions about the future.”
National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said the failure comes mainly from proposed cuts to the 80 percent of Farm Bill spending marked for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
“Cuts to the SNAP program were undoubtedly the cause of today’s Farm Bill rejection in the House, which is especially frustrating because I believe that the Senate and House bills had a lot of common ground on which to build. It’s going to be a long and dreary road from here as the Washington ag community regroups and reevaluates its work on this issue,” Boatright said.
Boatright said the continued inability of Congress to move forward on even the most crucial measures is disappointing.
“Unfortunately, American agriculture and the millions of people who benefit from it can’t wait for Washington to resolve its issues. We needed action today and I know I speak for our more than 160,000 members when I say we are incredibly disappointed by the House’s failure to pass this vital piece of legislation.”
Boatright and Luttrell agreed that there is public misunderstanding about aspects of the bill, but say Congress should be more aware than the average American of the need to pass legislation that gives farmers a better safety net, enhances conservation, stabilizes and enhances safety measures for food and assists in the promotion of our products in foreign markets.