WASHINGTON, D.C. - On September 19, by a vote of 217-210, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the nutrition title of their farm bill (H.R. 3102). Fifteen Republicans and all Democrats voted against the bill. The bill cuts $39 billion over 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, which is about ten times the cuts suggested in the version passed by the Senate earlier. Also, the House version is a three year bill rather than the typical five year farm bill, meaning the agriculture provisions and SNAP would not be negotiated together moving forward.
On the bright side, now that they have passed this bill, a conference committee can be set up to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. The House appointed their farm bill conferees to work with their already appointed counterparts in the Senate. Congressmen Glenn Thompson (R-Centre) and Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) from Pennsylvania are House conferees, but neither of Pennsylvania's senators are Senate conferees.
Whether the major differences between the House and Senate farm bill versions can be worked out is an open question. The current government shutdown further complicates the picture.
The farm bill contains major provisions that will benefit the green industry, particularly funding for research on new invasive pests.