April 20, 2018 – -The House Agriculture Committee this week upended a long-time tradition of approving a Farm Bill in a bi-partisan manner as the panel approved a Republican-drawn Farm Bill Wednesday on a 26-20, party line vote. The farm bill now moves to the full House which is expected to vote on the measure next month. The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet introduced their version of a Farm Bill for consideration.

Democratic dissent on the farm bill proposal centers on work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). “Mr. Chairman, this is a flawed bill,” Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) said in his opening salvo of the hearing in comments directed at Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) “This is the fault of a bad and non-transparent process. When I was chairman, we marked the bill up in subcommittee. We didn’t do that this time. I oppose it and I urge my colleagues on my committee to oppose it as well.”

“Today’s vote was about America’s farmers and ranchers,” said committee chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, in a statement.  “It was about a better future and greater opportunities for SNAP recipients. It was about fulfilling an obligation to lead, rather than standing on the sidelines.”

Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, United Fresh Produce Association, commented on behalf of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) saying the coalition “appreciates House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway for recognizing the importance of specialty crops in this initial legislation, which includes baseline funding of specialty crop programs included in the 2014 Farm Bill. However, the Alliance urges the House to enhance the bill by increasing the investment in specialty crop priorities — such as fully funding the TASC program, increasing funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Alliance’s policy recommendations throughout the bill.”