HURON — Candid conversations with the leadership likely made a difference in narrow House passage of agriculture titles of the farm bill, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Thursday.
The vote, 216-208, did not include the nutrition title, the food stamp component that makes up 80 percent of the bill. House members will consider that portion of the bill later.
“This process hasn’t been easy and we still have a long way to go to get a farm bill signed into law,” Noem said.
“Splitting the farm bill is not ideal and certainly wasn’t the path I would have chosen, but at the end of the day we need to get a farm bill into conference with the Senate,” she said.
She agrees with the agriculture community that splitting the bill is not the best way to go about it.
Asked why the vote was so close when the controversial nutrition title was not being considered, Noem said it’s sometimes difficult to get urban lawmakers to support a farm bill because they have not been exposed to the agriculture industry. They come to the table because of constituents in their districts who rely on food stamps to put food on the table. “It was close because this is a completely new way to address farm bill policy,” Noem said.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said the House took the unprecedented step of passing a “purely partisan farm bill that was opposed by over 500 farm and nutrition groups.
“This stands in contrast to the Senate, which passed a bipartisan bill that reforms our farm programs, provides for nutrition programs and reduces the deficit,” he said in a statement.
The only positive step is that it now means the Senate and House versions will now move on to conference committee, he said.
Noem said she expects a separate vote on the nutrition title within a week or two.
She believes there can be more savings in the food stamp program without jeopardizing assistance to eligible families who need the help from the government.
She also said she is concerned about giving up leverage with the Senate by not having the nutrition title included in the House bill, which is why she thinks a separate bill will soon come to the House floor.
Noem pushed for four main provisions in the farm bill which are important to South Dakota. All of them were included.
They are the Livestock Disaster Protection Act, the Protect Our Prairies Act, the National Forest Emergency Response Act and the USDA Office of Tribal Relations.For the complete article see the 07-12-2013 issue.
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