As H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, moved to the floor of the House of Representatives for full debate and consideration, President Donald Trump issued a statement urging support of the measure.
A statement on May 15 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the administration “appreciates the work of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and members of the House Agriculture Committee to pass a farm bill in a manner that provides certainty to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters and enacts common-sense work requirements as part of the overall requirements for eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.”
And, while SNAP is one of the most hotly debated issues in this farm bill, the White House said the administration believes that work reforms like those in H.R. 2 are “a critical component of any multi-year farm bill reauthorization.”
Conaway, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, rose in support of H.R. 2 as the debate began on May 16. He spoke briefly about hardships facing America’s farmers and ranchers including weather-related disasters and being in the midst of a five-year recession. In addition, he said global market challenges including high foreign subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers are hurting American farmers and ranchers.
Conaway said the solution is to “Heed the calls of the president of the United States and the secretary of agriculture and pass this farm bill.”
Conaway acknowledged, “No, this farm bill is not a cure for all that ails rural America and our farmers and ranchers. But it does provide a safety net to see them through these hard times.” He also noted, “It is no secret that we do not have a bipartisan farm bill process at the moment.”
Speaking on behalf of the Democratic-led opposition, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) stood in opposition of the farm bill as proposed. “H.R. 2 is not a work product that I am proud of because it is not one I or my Democratic colleagues had a proper role in producing. More than that though, I am opposed to H.R. 2 because it’s simply not good enough for American farmers, consumers or rural advocates.”
Peterson said the bill fails to improve the farm safety net programs. When addressing SNAP, he said the program fails the nation’s hungry. He outlined other areas of opposition and told the House members, “As I speak today, I refuse to give legitimacy to what in my view has been an illegitimate process.”
He ended by saying, “I will vote no on H.R. 2 and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.”
As debate on the House floor was underway, a long list of amendments faced consideration. A vote on the farm bill was expected last week, but as of WLJ press time the roll had not been called.
The OMB statement concluded, “If H.R. 2 were presented to the president in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he sign the bill into law.” — WLJ