By now, most have heard the House defeated the Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, also known as the new farm bill, by a vote of 195-234. It was the first time the House had ever voted down a farm bill.
You’ve probably read about the accusations flying back and forth between Democrats and Republicans about who was responsible for the negative vote on the legislation, which passed the House Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan vote.
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) have said last-minute defections by several Democrats led to the defeat of the measure, which Boehner voted for after spending a year refusing to bring it to the House floor. Cantor and other Republicans haven’t talked about why those Democrats “walked away.”
A few minutes before the final vote, Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) introduced an amendment that applied federal welfare work requirements to the food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. The amendment basically said food stamp recipients either had to be working or looking for work. The amendment passed 227-198.
What’s wrong with that? Well, it sounds good on the surface. But what about the farmers who have their employees sign up for food stamps when harvest is completed? In many rural communities, there are no jobs to look for, or certainly none that would allow employees to return to the farm in the spring.