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Ag Leaders Concerned About Defeat of the Farm Bill

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Congress has until the end of September to get a new farm bill passed. Thursday,  in a surprise vote..the US House rejected the nearly one trillion dollar bill. The defeat concerns many in the agriculture industry in Central Washington. Chris Schlect, President of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima says there won’t be any immediate impact
on growers. “However the real problem is having a continuity of policy for things like research and a number of things in the current farm bill that would’ve been of benefit to the produce industry.”

Criticism of the bill came from both sides. Some Republicans say the bill did not go far enough to cut the food stamp program.  A two billion dollar cut was proposed for the $80 billion dollar Food Assistant Program, otherwise known as the food stamp program.  Democrats say the bill cut to much from the Food Assistant Program.  Schlect hopes that in the future the Food Assistant Program would be separated from the farm bill.  “That’s a question that we and a lot of other farm groups are going to be debating over the next winter, after this gets done, after we find out what happens to this farm bill, in the future, I don’t know if these five year big farm bills are the way to go.”

Fourth District Congressman Doc Hastings, who voted for the bill, says an amendment which would’ve cut the Food Assistance Program led to bills defeat.  Hastings says this may be the last time that Congress deals with farm issues in this manner. “It’s really a misnomer to call a farm bill a farm bill when over 80 percent of the bill is not farm related.”   He hopes that in the future agriculture issues will be part of a stand alone bill.

The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September.

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