WASHINGTON, D.C. — The wait is finally over for those who have been wanting a new Farm Bill to be passed, for the most part that is anyways. The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to approve an $867 billion farm bill. The vote passed 87-13. It’ll now go into the hands of the House for the final approval. They are expected to vote sometime this week.
The new bill will reject stricter work requirements for food-stamp recipients that were pushed by House Republicans and President Trump.
According to the New York Times, “The twice-a-decade legislation provides a safety net for farmers hit with unexpected weather or by tariffs, as well as to low-income Americans struggling to feed themselves and their families. It is one of the most politically sensitive pieces of legislation Congress passes, balancing the demands of urban legislators hoping to maintain or increase funding for nutrition programs and rural lawmakers seeking to protect farmers, a divide brought into sharp relief this year as negotiations continued months after the previous bill’s Sept. 30 expiration date.”
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, voted in favor of the Farm Bill. Moran has been trying to get the bill passed for the last few months.
“Kansas farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a five-year Farm Bill,” said Sen. Moran. “Times have been tough in ag communities – the weather has not been our friend this year, and commodity prices are down. Escalating trade tensions have also caused a strain on Kansas’ ag economy. This Farm Bill, which protects crop insurance, will be helpful to ag producers by strengthening the farm safety net and encouraging responsible land stewardship through conservation programs.”
A vote in the House is expected at some point this week. Both Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, defended the bill.
“I’m pleased the Conference Report included my Emergency Conservation Program provisions to increase the amount of assistance in times of disaster and allow payments for fences to be made in advance,” continued Sen. Moran. “The bill also supports key rural development initiatives, including a pilot program within USDA to bolster broadband deployment. I urge the House to quickly pass this Conference Report and get it to the president’s desk for signature.”
Items to Note, according to Sen. Moran and his staff
The Farm Bill Conference Report passed today includes an amendment led by Sen. Moran to allow advance payments through the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for farmers and ranchers to replace fences following natural disasters. Sen. Moran’s amendment carries no
This bill also contains Sen. Moran’s proposal to more than double the amount of ECP assistance a landowner is able to receive when rebuilding from a disaster. These provisions reflect legislation Sen. Moran introduced in 2017 and were drafted based on input from Kansas ranchers following devastating fires in March 2017.
The Farm Bill also addresses a number of Sen. Moran’s priorities in expanding rural broadband access for Kansans. This legislation prevents the federally-subsidized overbuilding of broadband infrastructure in an effort to more strategically use taxpayer dollars to close the digital divide.