By CBW Staff

The House failed to pass its version of the farm bill last week. Here’s what you need to know about why it didn’t pass and what is expected out of the Senate farm bill version that might reach markup yet this week.

The House farm bill (H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018) was voted down 198 to 213. Not one Democrat voted in favor of the bill and several Republicans, 30 total, also withheld their vote.

The $867 billion farm bill included funding for farm/ranch subsidies, trade promotion programs and the much talked about Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank. Conservation programs were also funded in this version but to a lesser extent than the current farm bill. It also called for stricter work and job training requirements for nutrition assistance recipients, which Democrats warned would force 2 million people off of food stamps.

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement that President Trump was disappointed by the results. The Trump administration “underscores the need to bring certainty to our farmers and ranchers and to the many Americans receiving food assistance,” she said.

The nay votes may stem from outside the actual farm bill itself, as the House Freedom Caucus is pushing for voting on a conservative immigration bill soon. The farm bill might just be the stall tactic they need to get a vote on that front.

Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters after the vote that voters elected Republicans to rein in illegal immigration and lawmakers have failed to act.

“Some members have concerns about the farm bill, but that wasn’t my main focus,” Jordan said. “My main focus was making sure we do immigration policy right.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation says its membership is less than pleased about the outcome of the bill.

“We are already starting to hear from farmers across the nation, many of whom are perplexed and outraged at this morning’s vote. They are facing very real financial challenges,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement. “We call on all members of Congress not to use farmers and ranchers as pawns in a political game. The risk management tools of the farm bill are too important, particularly at a time of depressed farm prices. We urge the House to pass H.R. 2 as soon as possible.”

The Senate version of a farm bill will soon be ready for markup. It is anticipated that the Senate version will leave conservation stewardship programs uncut, and not make work requirements necessary for food stamp recipients. It is unclear as to what level of farm subsidies the Senate supports, but 2014 levels should remain intact.   

The current farm bill expires at the end of September – making the pressure for new legislation significant. If a new farm bill is not passed by Congress – which has a rich history of taking its sweet time on farm bills – a one-year extension of the 2014 farm bill is possible but stop-gap funding for an estimated 37 programs in that farm bill would need to be implemented or they would lose funds.