Farm bill passes, setting up clash over food stamps
WASHINGTON » The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that makes modest modifications to existing farm programs while largely avoiding changes to food stamps, setting up a showdown with the House.
The bill passed 86-11. The legislation renews farm programs such as crop insurance and land conservation. Farm programs are set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts.
Work on the legislation comes at a time when farmers are facing low prices and a potential trade war that could depress commodities prices further.
“We are one step closer to providing farmers and ranchers a Farm Bill with the certainty and predictability they deserve,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
GOP aides said the farm bill is expected to go to conference, where Senate and House leadership will try to reconcile their differences. On the food stamp front, the two sides are likely to clash.
The House bill tightens work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Currently, able-bodied adults ages 18- 49 without children are required to work 20 hours a week to maintain their benefits. The bill raises the top age of recipients subject to work requirements from 49 to 59 and requires parents with children older than 6 to work or participate in job training.
Government auditors estimate that in 10 years, the SNAP caseload would shrink by about 1.2 million people in an average month if the bill becomes law.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the farm bill gives farmers and ranchers the “certainty and predictability they deserve.”