VOTE ON FARM BILL IMMINENT. WE UNDERSTAND REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM IS TO VOTE NO! BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN STANDS ON THIS VOTE. Please call his office and ask him to vote no for the reasons below:
Rep. Ben Ray Luján: DC office – (202) 225-6190; Rio Rancho – (505) 994-0499
Please thank Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her no vote. DC office – (202) 225-6316; ABQ office – (505) 346-6781
- What’s the issue: The Farm Bill was last passed in 2013, and it must be reauthorized every five years. It’s a $100 billion legislative package that covers everything from farm subsidies and agricultural programs to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). Typically, it is a bipartisan exercise-but in April, Republicans passed a partisan bill out of committee that takes away food assistance from people (over two million people could be kicked out of the program) and instead funds unproven, unscalable job training programs that will leave people hungry.
- What to expect: The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill the week of May 14; it will probably pass with few or no Democratic votes. The Senate will take it up after that; it’s likely they will start from scratch with their own version.
- Bottom line: Only a few months after voting to give trillions in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, House Republicans are back to make life worse for families who rely on federal food assistance. The House vote in mid-May will only be the start of this fight; we’ll keep you updated as it goes forward.
- The Rich Get Richer – The House farm bill creates new loopholes that further tilt farm subsidies toward the largest, most successful farm businesses and away from small family farmers. The bill would allow cousins, nieces and nephews of farmers to receive subsidies even if they don’t live or work on the farm. A recent report by the Department of Agriculture found that the share of subsidies claimed by the biggest farms has tripled since 1991, and H.R. 2 would make this problem worse.
- The Poor Get Poorer – The same bill that enriches the largest and most successful farmers will also cause more than 1 million low-income households – more than 2 million people, including working families with children – to lose their food-assistance benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or have them reduced. The bill includes unworkable job training requirements that will place new burdens on states and leave many poor Americans without food assistance.
- Drinking Water Gets Dirtier – The House farm bill cuts conservation spending by $800 million, including programs designed to protect drinking water from farm pollution. Although the bill includes some reforms, these provisions are outweighed by proposed cuts and new pesticide safety loopholes.
- Diets Get Less Healthy – While the House farm bill increases funding for SNAP recipients who shop at farmers markets, the bill eliminates funding for other programs that help finance farmers markets and help farmers build local markets for healthy products. The bill also cuts funding for programs that help organic farmers.
- Rural America Gets Left Behind – At the very same moment Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was hosting a conference on the importance of broadband internet to rural America, the House Agriculture Committee was voting to cut USDA rural development funding by more than $500 million. The House bill also cuts funding from programs to help farmers produce more renewable energy.
- States Get Sidelined – The House farm bill included a sweeping amendment from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would broadly preempt state and local food and farm laws, including food safety and food labeling laws. Although intended to block a new California animal welfare law, the King amendment would wipe away thousands of state and local laws regulating everything from invasive pests to fishing.