US House Passes Farm Bill By Two Votes

A ride-along at the Goodhue farm before taking another cart of beans to the bins (DAVID GEIGER/AGRIBUSINESS)

The House of Representatives narrowly approved a massive, five-year farm bill Thursday, a little more than a month after conservatives helped tank the bill out of frustration over a separate fight on immigration.

The vote was 213-211.

After weeks of negotiations resulting in an agreement on two immigration votes, which are also taking place this week, the House made another attempt at passage. This time enough Republicans were on board to pass the farm bill, as it was already clear Democrats would roundly reject it.

The vast majority of the bill’s funding addresses food stamps, more formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The agriculture committee reformed the program to add more work and training requirements for those who receive benefits — the main reason why Democrats opposed the measure.

The 641-page bill also addresses a range of issues related to agricultural issues, such as livestock disaster programs, conservation, feral swine, farm loan programs and broadband services in rural areas, just to name a few.

Given that the Senate is working on its own version of a farm bill — one that has a less stringent approach on SNAP — it’s a foregone conclusion that the House bill, should it pass, won’t be the final say on the matter, with a possible House-Senate conference looming to hash out the significant differences.