Noem: House panel passage of Farm Bill starts process

Farm Forum

HURON – Passage of a Farm Bill by the House Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan vote will provide long-term certainty for agriculture producers, but now faces a floor vote and a conference committee with a Senate version that doesn’t make the same number of reforms.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., a member of the committee, said on May 16 that she expects some of the amendments that failed before the bill’s passage late on May 15 will be back for consideration.

“So we’re really at the very beginning of the process,” she said in a conference call.

Committee members hope to move the House version along quickly.

House leadership is committed to a floor vote in June, leaving July and August to iron out the differences before the one-year extension of the current bill expires at the end of September, Noem said.

The House bill eliminates direct payments, consolidates conservation programs and makes the first reforms to the food stamp program since 1996.

Policies important to South Dakota farmers and ranchers are included in the bill, Noem said.

“South Dakota agriculture producers deserve the long-term certainty that comes with the passage of a five-year Farm Bill,” she said. “I continue to believe it is essential that we grow our own food supply in this country. Consumers deserve a safe, reliable and affordable food supply and policies in the Farm Bill help make this happen.”

Included in the bill as well are livestock disaster programs, forestry provisions to help fight the pine beetle, conservation and a permanent office of tribal relations within the Department of Agriculture.

The committee-passed bill trims the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program by about $2.5 billion annually. One in seven Americans uses the program.

A Democratic amendment to strike the cuts was rejected.

In supporting the cuts, Republicans argued that the amount is small relative to the size of the program. People who qualify can still sign up for it, but wouldn’t be automatically enrolled.