The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


July 4, 2013

We hope Congress can work out a new farm bill

ENID, Okla. — Politics got in the way when the House rejected a new five-year $940 billion farm bill.

 Far right Republicans voted against the bill because they said it didn’t cut spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — food stamps — enough. Liberal Democrats voted against the bill because they said the bill cut SNAP spending too much.

The legislation, crafted by the House Agriculture Committee, headed by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., would have cut SNAP spending by $20.5 billion over the five years of the bill.

Along with other changes in the farm policy part of the bill, the legislation would have saved about $40 billion. The version passed by the Senate includes $20.5 billion in savings.

The defeat has left Lucas and other House leaders wondering what to do next.

There’s a lot of talk now about separating SNAP from agriculture spending and pressing forward with two pieces of legislation.

The prospects of that working are uncertain, given that the Senate already has approved its farm bill.

The two programs were combined years ago when conservative rural lawmakers — their numbers shrinking — agreed to the combination to gain support of more liberal urban lawmakers.

Up to now, the situation has worked, and we’ve had farm bills passed — not always in a timely fashion but legislation has been worked out.

Now, the whole process is up in the air. And, that’s left a lot of people wondering what the future holds, not the least of whom are farmers, ranchers and dairy operators who won’t know what kind of rules they will be operating under.

We hope something can be worked out. Politics is about compromise, it always has been. That fact seems to have been forgotten in Washington these days.

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