A new federal Farm Bill passed out of the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House Wednesday, and a local farm management analyst said it’s not without controversy.
Kent Thiesse said one aspect is some major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program once known as Food Stamps and, “There would be a work or training requirement that would be part of it, which has not been part of that in the past.”
The bill, as written, would require that most adults between 18 and 59 enroll in a training program or work at least part time to receive benefits.
The proposal would also place more of the administrative duties on states rather than the federal government, and Thiesse said that would, “Allow for more discrepancies from state to state.”
If lawmakers can’t come to an agreement on the farm bill, Thiesse said there is a stop-gap measure that would revert back to 1949 legislation, “Which they are probably not going to let happen because the target prices or reference prices are indexed back in that and it would be very costly to do that, and also that was before the SNAP program was included, it was before some of the conservation programs like CRP were included.”
More likely, he said, is that lawmakers may extend the current farm bill if they cannot reach agreement by the time it expires in September. Thiesse added that most farmers want to see a bill that doesn’t make big changes to the crop insurance program. “There have been some proposals to cut the crop insurance program,” he said, “And, obviously, as we look outside and see snow on the fields on the 20th of April having a good crop insurance program’s very important.”
Thiesse notes that the bill has passed out of the ag committee but hasn’t yet passed the full House, and the U.S. Senate hasn’t released their version yet, so there are a lot of steps left in the process and a decent amount of time left to take them.