Wall Street Journal writers Jesse Newman, Heather Haddon and Siobhan Hughes reported on Thursday that, "The House on Thursday narrowly passed a Republican-written bill that reauthorizes farm programs while also imposing controversial new work requirements on food-stamp recipients, acting on legislation that is important to a critical GOP constituency before the midterm elections. The bill passed on a 213-211 vote."
House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) was a guest on Wednesday’s “Adams on Agriculture” radio show with Mike Adams. Rep. Peterson provided his perspective on the status of Farm Bill legislation that was approved by the Committee last month.
During the interview (audio replay here (MP3- 9:00); unofficial FarmPolicyNews transcript here) Mr. Adams queried: “All right, you’ve got a week off. You’re back talking with people. What kind of reaction are you getting to this farm bill proposal?”
Rep. Peterson frankly stated, “Not much.”
Elaborating, he explained,
That’s about the fourth or fifth thing that comes up, if it even comes up. People are concerned about what’s going on with this trade situation [NAFTA, China], what’s going on with the RFS. That’s the No. 1 and 2 things that I hear about, depending on where I’m at. And they just don’t…I don’t know, it just…they’re not fired up. The question is, well, is it going to get done or not, and they don’t seem to be too worried about it one way or the other. So I don’t know. It’s kind of weird.
Rep. Peterson also noted, “Well, you know, I’m reflecting the views of the Democrats on the Ag Committee. They are unanimous, and we have a lot of members on the committee that are most interested in the SNAP part of the bill. So this is an affront to them. And I don’t know what you can do to change their minds. I don’t think there’s much you can do.
“I think a bigger concern for where this thing is going is the fact that the Heritage Action people apparently came out against the bill, so I don’t know how you get this thing done. And that’s what I tried to tell the chairman at the beginning of this process, that this just wasn’t going to fly. And one of the things you don’t do, and I’ve learned in politics if you want to have a bipartisan situation, you don’t ask somebody to do something they can’t do. And that’s the situation we’re in here.
“So it’ll play out. We’re not going to have any amendments. They’ll pass it or they won’t, depending on what happens. If it goes into conference, you know, if it passes, the Senate is not going to do any of this SNAP stuff. So how you, even if we get a bill back out of conference, how you get that back across the House floor, if they’ve already taken this position going over to conference, I don’t know. I just don’t see it. But I’m not the chairman, and we’ll just have to see how this plays out.”
#SNAP (food stamps) outlays are projected to be $26 billion less for the five-year period FY2014-FY2018 than was expected in February 2014 (-7%). Crop insurance is projected to be $10 billion less for the five-year period (-25%) https://t.co/HTiPfKSphb CRS pic.twitter.com/SrpVYckDUt— Farm Policy (@FarmPolicy) May 2, 2018
Mr. Adams asked, “The chairman told me last week that he’s hopeful that you’ll come back to the table and work on this farm bill. He said he’s hoping that you’ll come back. Have you had any more conversations with him? Do you anticipate having any more talks with him before a vote?”
Rep. Peterson stated,
I have not had conversations with him. And, you know, I’m willing to talk to him, but I’m not going to initiate it because he’s made pretty clear where he’s at, and he’s said from the start on these work requirements that he’s not going to negotiate. And that was a deal breaker on our side of the aisle, partly because of what happened in 2013.
“I think that people should work. I agree with that. What I don’t agree with is this huge amount of money that’s being spent on a bureaucracy that’s not going to accomplish anything. It’s not enough money to actually train anybody. They’re fixing the wrong part of the problem.
“The problem with people that aren’t working is that they’re living in the wrong place, and they have a waiver. And the bill doesn’t do anything about the waivers. So you’re still going to have all kinds of people in these metropolitan areas and other rural parts of the country that have been on waivers that are going to continue to be on waivers, and the folks that are going to be caught up in this are just going to be run through a huge bureaucracy where they’re going to spend all their time filling out paperwork and I guess driving to workforce centers, which in my part of the world is not reasonable.”
Crop insurance costs have increased steadily as the program has expanded to cover more commodities & become a primary means for risk management; #SNAP rose sharply after the recession in 2009 but has begun to decline more slowly during the recovery https://t.co/nYuJric0Xf CRS pic.twitter.com/1DgV4oIxv5— Farm Policy (@FarmPolicy) May 2, 2018
With respect to Title I, Rep. Peterson indicated that, “I was concerned about the adequacy of the safety net in Title 1. But I was convinced that we don’t have any money, so we can’t do anything. So we worked through things. But when we were doing that, we were not under as much stress of getting rid of the RFS or these trade situations, which I think put us in a much more precarious position in terms of the safety net.”
Rep. Peterson added that he does not anticipate any Democrats voting for the farm bill on the House floor.