As South Dakotans, we all understand just how unpredictable the weather in our state can be, which is one of many reasons why our agriculture community deserves the certainty that long-term agriculture policy can provide. Because of its importance to South Dakota, and to our nation, I am incredibly disappointed that the House of Representatives failed to pass a five-year Farm Bill this week. After hours of debate in both the Agriculture Committee and on the House floor, a majority of lawmakers failed to do the right thing and vote in favor of this bill.
Decades ago, we decided that it was important that we grow our own food in this country – and a Farm Bill provides the policies that help make that possible. This bill is more than providing a safety net for our producers; it’s a national security issue. By not passing a Farm Bill, we put our own food security in jeopardy because the moment we let another country feed us is the moment we let another country control us.
234 lawmakers, a combination of Republicans and Democrats, stood up on the House floor, voted no and decided to put politics before people. We were able to pass this bill out of the Agriculture Committee with strong bipartisan support, but unfortunately, politics came first for many lawmakers this week. While a majority of Republicans voted for the bill, there were too many that walked away because it didn’t cut enough. And only 24 Democrats voted for the bill on Thursday, largely because the cuts and reforms to the food stamp program were too much, although these cuts were less than three percent of the program’s budget.
I may be frustrated by this outcome, but we have to move forward to ensure that all Americans have a safe, reliable and affordable food supply. We need to find a way to make farm and food policy more accountable to taxpayers. This bill would have saved taxpayers nearly $40 billion, made necessary reforms to crop insurance to make sure that farmers had skin in the game while providing a safety net, and would have maintained the integrity of the food stamp program.
Failure to pass the Farm Bill means we’re stuck with the status quo – with no meaningful reforms or savings.
The next step is unclear, but I remain committed to passing this Farm Bill and remain hopeful we will be able to regroup in the coming days. We need to figure out a way to bring a bipartisan majority of the House together in support of this bill.