Senate, House Committees Release Previews of Farm Bill

The bills, which will be marked up, include reforms, strengthening and creating programs crucial to the rural sector.

The Senate and House that deal with agriculture issues released on May 1 an outline of their proposals ahead of drafting legislation dealing with agriculture, food stamp, and conservation issues.

The House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee have to markup what is called the “Farm Bill.”

The former is scheduled to do so on May 23, while no date has been set on the latter’s end.

No bills have been released from either committee.

The current farm bill, which was passed in 2018, expires on Sept. 30. The final legislation would renew the farm bill for another five years. The 2018 farm bill expired on Sept. 30, 2023, and Congress extended it for another year.

The bills are set to include reforms, strengthening, and creating programs crucial to the rural sector.

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The House version includes providing more financial resources to enable people who receive benefits through government initiatives to have healthier choices.

Republicans and conservatives have called for reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), namely stronger work requirements.

This bill does not include reforms, though it would allow for people to work while receiving SNAP.

The bill, according to the House Agriculture Committee, would also allow “new access for participants either formerly disallowed or beholden to arcane restriction” and “corrects egregious executive branch overreach and disallows future unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily increasing or decimating SNAP benefits.”

Additionally, the legislation would address challenges facing rural communities such as lacking internet access.

“This bill is a product of an extensive and transparent process, which included soliciting feedback from members of both political parties, stakeholder input from across the nation, and some tough conversations,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) in a statement.

The Senate version, among numerous things, has climate-related measures and would form an Office of Small Farms to support such enterprises. The House bill does not have climate steps.

The Senate bill would incorporate more than 100 bipartisan bills, according to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.

“This is a serious proposal that reflects bipartisan priorities to keep farmers farming, families fed, and rural communities strong,” said the committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), in a statement.

“The foundation of every successful farm bill is built on holding together the broad, bipartisan coalition of farmers, rural communities, nutrition and hunger advocates, researchers, conservationists, and the climate community,” she continued.

The 2018 farm bill did not consist of new work requirements for SNAP recipients. It set federal agricultural and food policy for five years and provided more than $400 billion in farm subsidies, conservation programs, and food aid for the poor.

Currently, in order to keep their SNAP benefits, able-bodied adults ages 18–52 without dependents are required to work or be in a work program or do a combination of the two for 80 hours per month.

Exceptions are made for people who are homeless, pregnant, or a veteran.

The farm bill is rarely a partisan battleground, although the sweeping five-year plan is intensely debated across the agricultural industry and in “farm states.”

A group of 16 farmer organizations is preparing to launch a multi-state tour as Congress is about to debate the farm bill.

They are calling on Congress to pass legislation that reforms government checkoff programs and creates a “level playing field” for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Over the next two months, the farm groups will host events in at least five states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Alabama, and North Dakota. The tour is slated to begin in Clearwater, Minnesota, on May 14.

The Associated Press, Jana Pruet, and John Haughey contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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