06.20.13

Reaction Of Senator Patrick Leahy To House Defeat Of The Farm Bill

House Republican leaders again have chosen to hypercharge the Farm Bill with partisanship.  They have trumped practicality with ideology, at the expense of farmers and consumers and millions of families who constantly struggle to keep hunger and malnutrition at bay.

The Farm Bill that came out of the House Agriculture Committee was a bipartisan bill that had the support of Republicans and some of the committee’s Democrats, even with the heavy cuts to the nutrition programs.  That support quickly eroded after the bill was laden with highly partisan amendments.  

A further setback and an element in the Farm Bill’s defeat in the House was the unwise amendment to strip the market stabilization program from the dairy program.  Siding with processors over dairy farmers, those advancing that amendment gutted a program that was entirely voluntary and had been carefully crafted and balanced to meet the needs of both producers and consumers.  Hardworking dairy farmers are not asking for a handout.  They just want to ease the rollercoaster pricing that has driven so many Vermont dairy farms out of business.  Market stabilization is the best way to maintain a steady supply of milk for consumers by keeping dairy farms in the business of producing milk for local markets.  Instead, that ill-advised amendment would only help the big processors to get the cheapest milk they can squeeze out of dairy farms while raking in record profits.

Instead of playing politics, House leaders need to work in ways that invite bipartisan results, as the Senate did with the Violence Against Women Act and the comprehensive immigration reform bill that is now before the Senate.

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[On Thursday afternoon, the House defeated the Farm Bill in a vote of 195 to 234.  Earlier in the day the House approved the Goodlatte Amendment to the dairy program, in a vote of 291 to 135.  The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill on June 10 in a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27.]

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