AFBF votes against splitting farm bill, plan falling apart

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 10, 2013 - Amid growing speculation that a House plan to split the nutrition title from the farm bill is falling apart, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) board voted unanimously today to reaffirm its opposition to the proposal.

The board also unanimously opposed elimination of the 1938 and 1949 permanent law.

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In a policy bulletin, AFBF said that while it had asked states “stand down yesterday on communicating this message to Congress until the board could reconsider the vote this morning, we are now requesting you resume those communications.”

AFBF said it has been working to “sort facts from rumors, which has been a challenge,” but it is believes the Republican leadership has not secured the 218 votes necessary to pass the legislation.

The group said the original plan was to send a new bill to the House Rules Committee Tuesday night, but noted that a meeting has not been called to consider the legislation.

“Nor have Rules Committee members been notified yet today that they should plan on a meeting today,” AFBF said. “As of this morning, the entire Democratic caucus was standing in unison that splitting the bills was not a good idea.”

A House Rules Committee spokesman confirmed there is no time set for consideration of the split farm bill. “I honestly don't know at the moment,” the spokesman said.

An aide for House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, “We don't disclose any info on whip counts/whip process. Reports that allude to knowledge of a count are bogus.”

Several reports have put the whip count at about 170.

“A few moderate members are concerned about this, and Farm Bureau's opposition isn't helping it,” one source said.

The AFBF opposition came a day after the National Farmers Union's (NFU) board of directors voted unanimously against splitting the bill.

“Splitting farm programs and nutrition assistance into two separate bills is a disservice to farmers, ranchers, rural residents and consumers,” said NFU president Roger Johnson. “The bill needs to remain intact, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's efforts to provide safety net programs for both farmers and consumers facing hard times should not be pulled in opposite directions.”

Still, despite the low whip count reports, today's whip notice from Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, “It is also possible that the House may consider legislation related to the farm bill."

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