Huffman Votes for Farm Bill

January 29, 2014

WASHINGTON—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) released the following statement after voting for the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642), also known as the Farm Bill:

“While the final Farm Bill compromise is far from perfect, it includes some hard-won victories and critical provisions for California agriculture, rural communities, and conservation. Moreover, the funding of nutrition programs, while still inadequate, improved dramatically from previous versions of the bill.   

I am pleased that the King Amendment, which would have gutted California’s food and animal safety standards and put our state’s egg industry out of business, was defeated. I joined colleagues from both parties in fighting against this radical proposal, which would have nullified state food safety laws, including a bipartisan California bill that extends Proposition 2 food safety and animal cruelty standards to all eggs sold in California.  Removing the King Amendment is a win for consumers and humane food producers, including California egg farmers who can now continue doing business on a level playing field with out-of-state competitors.  

I also fought hard against the $40 billion slashing of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program in the original House proposal, so I’m relieved to see those radical nutrition cuts replaced by much more modest cuts that focus on raising state minimum contributions under the “Heat & Eat” program.  By narrowing federal funding in this manner, the bill at least gives states an opportunity to minimize impacts on poor and working families who benefit from “Heat & Eat” food assistance and I’m hopeful that California can do that.  Some of the impacts of the SNAP reduction may also be mitigated by modest increases in funding for food banks and food availability in underserved communities. Still, at a time when food assistance is so critical to American families, reducing any part of the food safety net anywhere in America is troubling and I wish it wasn’t part of the bill.  The fight for adequate nutrition funding is not over, and I will continue to advocate for an increase in SNAP benefits to reduce hunger and improve nutrition for struggling American families.

Of critical importance to California and my North Coast district, the final Farm Bill compromise provides a drought assistance lifeline by reauthorizing several disaster relief programs that hopefully will provide timely and immediate assistance for North Coast farmers and ranchers who are suffering from the severe drought.

The Farm Bill also makes important strides in other areas. The Conservation Reserve Program is expanded, and for the first time the bill requires farmers using subsidized crop insurance (a program that still needs more transparency and safeguards against excessive subsidies) to use best conservation practices.

The Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, critical to the financial health of rural communities on the North Coast, is extended for a year. The bill includes important new provisions to benefit organic farmers, specialty crops, and farmers markets. And it clears the way for American states to join the rest of the developed world in legalizing industrial hemp.

I agree with those who criticize the bill for continuing to fund unjustifiable farm subsidies for wealthy industrial farmers. Especially in light of the reductions in SNAP, these wasteful subsidies are inexcusable. I will continue to work to eliminate them and redirect the savings to more appropriate and beneficial uses, including the SNAP program.”

A full summary of the bill may be found HERE.