7/11/2013 at 12:00 a.m.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a split version of the Farm Bill Thursday afternoon by a 216-208 margin, separating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from traditional farm programs and repealing the permanent law status of the Farm Bill in the process.
The Senate and House version of the bill will now go to conference committee, where the differences in the bills will need to be worked out.
All four members of the Arkansas House delegation voted for the bill, despite opposition from Farm Bureau and a number of other agricultural organizations.
“We are disappointed in House leadership for choosing to split the bill and repealing the permanent law status of the Farm Bill, which creates the possibility that we will never write a Farm Bill again,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach.
“The decision by House leadership to pursue that path put members of the Arkansas delegation in a very difficult situation.
“We still have a long way to go to get to passage of a five-year Farm Bill. The challenge will be in conferencing the vastly different proposals from the Senate and the House.
“We are committed to work vigorously with our full delegation to work toward passage of a Farm Bill that provides the needed safety net that underpins Arkansas and American agriculture.”
In a statement from the American Farm Bureau, President Bob Stallman said: "The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to moving ahead with fundamental farm policy legislation, following House passage today of H.R. 2642. While we don’t yet know what the next steps will be, we will be working with both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress to ensure passage of a new five-year farm bill. While we were hopeful the farm bill would not be split, nor permanent law repealed, we will now focus our efforts on working with lawmakers to deliver a farm bill to the president’s desk for his signature by September.”