About That Farm Bill That Was Defeated In The House

The Farm Bill failed in the House today, with most Democrats and some Republicans voting against it.  From Georgia, Barrow, Kingston, Austin Scott, Westmoreland and Woodall voted for the bill according to the AJC’s Daniel Malloy via Twitter.  

I haven’t said much about the Farm Bill on here.  Our policy here is to avoid conflicts, and as I’ve previously disclosed, I have done work and anticipate doing more work for some who have a vested interest in sections of the bill.  At some point I’ll probably try to break down some of the issues for those of you that are interested in shades of gray, but I am otherwise occupied at this point.  Thus, I’m going to paste a note below from a non-elected friend of mine that I’m lifting with permission from an email chain I was on earlier today:

“What just happened was Tea Party Republicans trying to out conservative each other just voted to insure SNAP (which incidentally included drug testing before receiving benefits) is fully funded at record levels, keep direct payments to farmers for not growing crops, continue to prop up the sugar industry, and keep huge dairy support payments in place. Instead of cutting the budget by 40 billion the vote today insures very little deficit reduction. The Tea Party just gave Obama the biggest victory of his presidency.”

I put that here not so much to argue for the Farm Bill, but to encourage more people to think about the legislative process and the status quo.  We now have it as an accepted talking point (a/k/a “known fact”) that the farm bill (and many other bills) are “pork”.  Thus, a lot on the right are willing to cheer when virtually any bill is defeated.

What too often isn’t taken into consideration is the fact that absent a bill, the status quo continues unabated.  Whether talking about life issues or appropriations bills, too many on our side have adopted an all or nothing mentality about any legislation.

So now we cheer a probably temporary defeat for the farm bill.  Likely anything we gain in a scaled down House version will be added back in conference.  Maybe by defeating this we’ll get incremental improvement.

More likely, however, we’ll get an extension in the status quo.  SNAP is untouched.  Farmers will continue to be paid to not grow crops. And “true conservatives” can pat themselves on the back knowing they remain pure – but without actually shrinking the size nor scope of government.


  1. Charlie says:

    Here’s the press release from Jack Kingston’s office:

    Kingston Votes to Reform Nutrition, Agricultural Programs

    Legislation would save taxpayer $40 billion, chart course for additional savings

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) today voted to reform the nation’s nutrition and agricultural programs in an effort to save taxpayers $40 billion and chart the course for additional savings.

    “Unchecked, the status quo will bankrupt our country and doom our children and grandchildren to a life indebted to China,” said Kingston. “I voted for this bill because it was the first effort to significantly reform food stamps in nearly two decades and would save taxpayers more than $40 billion.”

    The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 would have reformed federal nutrition programs by reinstating income and asset test, preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and states from engaging in recruitment activities, and ensuring illegal immigrants, lottery winners, and the deceased do not receive benefits.

    During debate, the House adopted an amendment cosponsored by Kingston which would institute a work requirement for food stamp recipients similar to the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s. As a result of those efforts, , welfare caseloads dropped by more than 60-percent over five years and 4.2 million Americans rose out of poverty.

    “We cannot continue to deny able-bodied people the dignity of work,” Kingston said. “Our amendment says that if you can work, you ought to be working so that you can get off these programs. It builds on the success of the past and ensures food stamps are a hand up instead of a hand out.”

    In addition to the food stamp reforms, the bill contained landmark changes to federal agricultural programs including an end to direct payments and a shift toward market-oriented risk management programs like crop insurance. It also repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs administered by the USDA.

    “Agriculture is a $71.1 billion annual economic impact in our state and employs 6 in 10 Georgians,” said Kingston. “This legislation is of vital importance to Georgia agriculture because it provides certainty over the next five years. While of great importance to farmers, it ensures they have skin in the game by cutting farm subsidies by $23 billion and replacing direct payments with a more cost-effective crop insurance program.”

    Despite its strong reforms and significant taxpayer savings, the bill was ultimately defeated after cuts to food stamps elicited a veto threat from President Barack Obama. House Democrats also balked at the inclusion of the Kingston-backed amendment to institute a work requirement for food stamps.

    “The great success of the 1996 welfare reforms prove that we can reduce dependence on the federal government by empowering the American people to pull themselves out of poverty,” Kingston said. “I will continue to fight to reduce the size of the federal government and make entitlement programs more efficient and effective.”

  2. seekingtounderstand says:

    Charlie: I just witnessed Debbie Dooley of the tea party declaring war on Georgia Power at a solar panel discussion at Lanier Tech. Her math and facts are lacking, and her demands would have made Obama proud. She was not looking out for the little guy but special interests.
    The loss will be to Georgia rate payers as she fights for higher electrical rates while spewing nonsense. Loss all respect for the tea party.

    • xdog says:

      That won’t happen as long as the know-nothings control the House. What do you think comes first, Boehner gets fed up with efforts to coddle the fire-eaters and moves in with the donks and the big-money gopers, or the f-e caucus decides to dump Boehner in favor of someone like, I don’t know, Louis Gohmert.

  3. TheEiger says:

    The link below lists some of the bad things in the Farm Bill. This is what happens any time you have a “comprehensive” bill. Dodd-Frank was comprehensive, ObamaCare was comprehensive, immigration reform will be comprehensive. They are all full of crap. My personal favorite in the farm bill is a Christmas tree tax. “Allows the government to collect a new tax on Christmas trees for promotion (because otherwise we might forget to buy one for December 25).”


  4. Harry says:

    The farm bill has strayed far from the constitution and a free market, and just represents more payoff for special interests. Every great civilization is destroyed from internal as well as external influences. We are no different.

  5. gcp says:

    If this bill is supposed to resemble ’96 welfare reform how about a two year lifetime limit on food stamps. Why should taxpayers pay for someone’s groceries for life? Another suggestion; allow nutritious food only, similar to WIC. Several governors and even Mayor Bloomie in NY have asked for this change. As for subsidizing crop insurance well that’s sort of like Kingston’s Flood Insurance Program…just another subsidy.

    • Ellynn says:

      How is me paying over $400 a year for flood insurance a subsidy? The governement (FEMA)makes it manditory where I live. I pay it for just like my house insurance. In fact it costs more then my homeowners insurance. If privately held companies who sell flood insurance (which not one compant has since 1968) the governemnt would not have to undewrite flood insurance. Same thing with crop insurance.

      • mpierce says:

        GAO report

        “The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 authorizes NFIP to offer subsidized premiums
        to owners of certain properties. These subsidized premium rates, which represent about 40 percent to 45 percent of the cost of covering the full risk of flood damage to the properties,
        apply to about 22 percent of all NFIP policies. To help reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flood damage to buildings and other structures insured by NFIP, FEMA has used
        a variety of mitigation efforts, such as elevation, relocation, and demolition. Despite these efforts, the inventories of repetitive loss properties—generally, as defined by FEMA, those that have had two or more flood insurance claims payments of $1,000 or more over 10 years—
        and policies with subsidized premium rates have continued to grow.”

      • mpierce says:

        To put your $400 into perspective

        Also from the report,”the projected average annual subsidized premium was $1,121 as of October 2010, discounted from the $2,500 to $2,800 that FEMA said would be required to cover the full risk of loss.”

      • gcp says:

        Ellynn, as mpierce points out you are getting quite a bargain. Private insurers won’t insure you because they know the risk. My question is why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize those that choose to live in a flood plain or those that chose to farm but if you favor such subsidies than Jack Kingston is your man for senate.

        • Ellynn says:

          Well boys here’s the thing. Not one insurance company carries flood coverage and has not since before I was born. On top of that I did not choose to live in a flood plane. When I bought my home over 13 years ago I was not in a 100 year flood plane. But as of 2007, my third floor 900 SF condo is now in a hurricane surge zone. My condo is mire likelt to burn to the ground yet my home insurance for twice the amount of coverage is less then my FEMA mandated insurance. If private insurance covered floods I would pay it. I would rather my money go to local private companies. I have worked F5 tornado strikes (Oakfield, WI, July 1996) and had no problems with private companies replacing or funding clean. But insurance companies don’t. Maybe you should ask the free market why they stopped in 1968. Also I was born into a family of farmers, public school teachers and public civil servants. I know my upbringing was ‘underwritten’ by taxpayers, mainly because many people reminded me of it. Often. It don’t stop people from eating the beef from my cousins cows that have artificially low prices. People still buy the the butter, cheese and milk. If people stopped being farmers what would eat? (Even the seeds used to grow food and the animals in the forest are managed by some sort of government agency you paid for)

          • Harry says:

            Is it not true as environmentalists claim, that the effect of FEMA insurance (NFIP) is to encourage a sort of moral hazard that subsidizes the building and maintaining of property in high-risk areas? Just as with Obamacare, is the effect of FEMA policies not to shift risk from high-risk taxpayers to low-risk taxpayers? As it is no longer legal for low-risk individuals and companies to self-insure or seek lower cost coverage on their health insurance or flood insurance, there is a moral hazard to make risky bad choices whether in regard to one’s lifestyle or one’s property location. And we’re talking about huge shifting of risks among populations – just look at the massive cost to taxpayers and low-risk premium payers of covering hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; or the cost of treating HIV and STD-related cancers; or the cost of degenerative issues due to smoking, alcohol, and drug addiction. Such self-destructive intrusive government attempts at lobbyist-driven, special-interest driven, moral hazard spawning, redistributive social engineering is why this country has no future.

    • Scott65 says:

      Yes…lets screw the people who have the least, but also pay farmers not to farm. Even if this farm bill had passed it was DOA anyhow with the Senate and it was a sure veto from the President. I particularly loved the exchange between Cantor and Hoyer when Cantor tried to blame Democrats for his own ineptness in the bill not passing…I think Bohner’s days are numbered as speaker. Hate on Pelosi all you want…she got things done (you might not of liked ’em, but they were results). She also knew what her whip count was

      • mpierce says:

        I prefer nothing get done over Pelosi’s results. If Washington had fewer accomplishments we would be much better off.

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