The U.S. House on Wednesday passed a new Farm Bill cobbled out in conference committee. The Senate is expected to act on it soon. (Albany Herald file photo)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed new farm legislation Wednesday, mapping out the next few years of agriculture and nutrition policy. The bill must be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill passed the House by a 251-166 vote. The bill had bipartisan support, earning 162 GOP votes and 82 Democratic ones. Georgia’s House delegation was deeply split, with seven, including U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, voting in favor, six opposing and one not voting.
HOW THEY VOTED
This is how Georgia's House delegation voted on the Farm Bill conference report Wednesday.
Jack Kingston, R, Dist-1
Sanford Bishop, D, Dist-2
Hank Johnson, D, Dist-4
Rob Woodall, R, Dist-7
Austin Scott, R, Dist-8
John Barrow, D, Dist-12
David Scott, D, Dist-13
John Lewis, D, Dist-5
Tom Price, R, Dist-6
Doug Collins, R, Dist-9
Paul Broun, R, Dist-10
Phil Gingrey, R, Dist-11
Tom Graves, R, Dist-14
Lynn Westmoreland, R, Dist-3
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a House Republican negotiator on the Farm Bill conference committee who supported passage, said the compromise package ensures U.S. farmers’ ability to feed the nation while also addressing waste in programs. He noted that the House members of its ag committee had a wide range of political ideology, but were able to discuss issues across the party aisle and across different political philosophies.
“This bill does the things that it needs to do to ensure the foundation for agricultural producers to help with that part of the economy,” Scott said, speaking for passage of the bill Wednesday. “It also ensures that as those farmers go forward to provide the food, the nutrition, the fiber, not only for America, but for the rest of the world — so that Americans can go to the grocery store and get more for their dollar than any other country as they seek to feed their families.
“We found agreement to clean up waste and abuse within many of the systems, including the food stamp system. We’ve given more money to food banks, which I think that is extremely important in making sure that the most needy American citizens have a place to go and make sure that they can get the nutrition that they need.
“We’ve put some new policies in place and I’m confident that this bill is a move in the right direction. And where we’ve got those areas where we did not find the agreement, I’m confident that we’ll be able to come back and work on those. I’m proud to support this bill.”
The bill, which has been worked on since 2010, had the support of farm groups, including the Georgia Peanut Commission based in Tifton.
“The Georgia Peanut Commission testified at field hearings in Georgia and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation at subsequent hearings in other states,” says Armond Morris, chairman of the commission. “We also testified on Capitol Hill about the needs of peanut producers in Georgia. Countless hours by our volunteer leaders, staff and the University of Georgia’s National Center for Peanut Competitiveness have produced a peanut program that is cost-efficient and will work for Georgia’s peanut growers.
“House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson have worked diligently to get compromise legislation within the House and with the negotiators from the Senate. The Georgia Peanut Commission encourages the Senate to take the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Report up as soon as possible.”
The Senate has not set a time for taking up the bill, but is expected to address it quickly.