CHN: Farm Bill Stalemate Continues
Since the House and Senate each passed bills months ago to reauthorize the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419), final agreement on the differences has been elusive. The Farm Bill includes funding for farm crop subsidies, conservation, rural development, forestry, and nutrition programs. Standing in the way of final passage of the bill is an agreement on how to pay for an additional $10 billion many members would like to add to the $280 billion over five years base bill. Congressional rules require the new spending to be offset by new revenue or spending cuts.
Both the House and Senate bills made significant improvements in nutrition title of their bills in the Food Stamp and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) programs. Erosion in the buying power of food stamps is addressed through increasing benefits and adjusting future benefits for inflation. Both bills significantly increase annual funding for TEFAP, which purchases food for emergency feeding organizations. (For a comparison of the nutrition titles of the bills see Human Needs Report, 12/21/07: http://www.chn.org/humanneeds/071221d.html)
Authorization of the 5-year Farm Bill, which expired in September, has been temporarily extended several times. The current extension expires on March 15. It is unlikely that a final agreement will be reached by then. Most expect another short-term extension of one month to provide more time to reach agreement a pass the bill. It is important to pass the Farm Bill in order for improvements in the Food Stamp Program and TEFAP to begin taking effect.