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Halfway home: House Republicans stand alone to pass Farm Bill by two votes

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Thanks to majority control in the House of Representatives, Republicans in Washington D.C. narrowly passed a new federal farm bill on Thursday by the slimmest of margins on a partisan vote of 213-211.

“This legislation has been years in the making; we’ve hosted hundreds of hearings and made stops across the country to listen to rural America’s needs,” said Kansas First District Representative Dr. Roger Marshall said after the vote. “I am so proud to report we did it! We passed a budget-neutral farm bill that takes care of our farmers and ranchers.”

Democrats unanimously opposed the measure, saying it would move too many people off of government food assistance. Citing language in the bill which creates tougher work requirements for SNAP recipients. SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps.

The term “farm bill” suggests, at face value, to be a piece of legislation geared toward agricultural producers. However, it would be more accurately described as an entitlement or welfare bill geared overwhelmingly toward consumers. Eighty percent of the funding allocated in the massive $869 billion package is the direct funding source for the SNAP program.

This leaves about $174 billion remaining to renew what can be described as a safety net for farmers by protecting crop insurance. It also simplifies conservation programs and rolls back what the majority of House members consider to be “heavy-handed” federal regulations on farmers and ranchers.

The bill also promises to expand rural broadband internet access, restore funding for trade promotion programs, invest in animal health, and provide programs designed to help young and beginning farmers.

Thursday’s vote marked the House’s second attempt to pass the measure. GOP leaders suffered a setback in May when 30 Republican members opposed its initial passage in an effort to force a vote on immigration legislation.

The renewed legislation comes at a time of concern and uncertainty for many in the ag industry. Low commodity prices across the nation stand in stark contrast to the high cost of doing business in agriculture.

Some have expressed concern that President Trump’s approach and tough talk on tariffs could potentially result in limited or reduced access to some foreign markets for U.S. ag products and other American exports as well.

In the Midwest, such concerns exist along with that of widespread drought conditions during most of the growing season has resulted in most wheat producing states releasing significantly lower than normal projections for the wheat harvest now underway and making its way northward.

Oklahoma may be the state hardest hit by Mother Nature’s stinginess when it comes moisture, or the lack-there-of, during the growing season. They have projected wheat harvest yields in the Sooner state to be roughly half of the annual average.

The passage of the House bill sets up an all but certain clash with the Senate version which is looking to make mostly modest adjustments to existing programs and not pick a fight over food stamps.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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