Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network.

House's Version Of Farm Bill Passes By 2 Votes

Amy Mayer
Harvest Public Media file photo

Thursday had all the makings of deja vu for the U.S. House’s farm bill draft: immigration concerns, uncertain Republican votes and a wall of Democratic opposition to changes in the main federal food aid program.

In the end, the chamber avoided a repeat of May’s failure, when members of the conservative Freedom Caucus wanted to deal with immigration first. But the farm bill passed Thursday — narrowly, 213-211. Still, 20 Republicans voted against it, as did every Democrat in the chamber.

The passage was hailed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who said in a statement that while “American producers have greatly benefited from the policies of the Trump Administration, including tax reforms and reductions in regulations,” a farm bill is necessary.

“No doubt, there is still much work to be done on this legislation,” Perdue added, a nod to the Senate still needing to pass their version, which is expected to come next week. After that, both chambers will have to find a compromise.

The House’s version is notable because it makes significant changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. It would expand the number of people who must follow work requirements or volunteer or join training programs for 20 hours a week.

Democrats have said the more strict requirements would be onerous for hungry families.

But Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Missouri Republican, called the changes “historic improvements.”

“This bill promotes work and individual success while empowering those dependent on government assistance,” she said in a statement. Hartzler, who is on the House ag committee, also had language approved that allows grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands.

About every five years, Congress must pass a new farm bill. It includes programs for commodity supports, conservation, forestry and nutrition assistance. The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.

The Senate’s version, which is heralded as a bipartisan measure, does not make the contentious changes to SNAP but would legalize industrial hemp. Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois, another member of the House ag committee, is putting her faith in the Senate.

"Our hope is that the Senate bill ... which is actually a good bill, hopefully that will pass here in the next several days. And when we go to conference committee, we can come out with a good product that I will be able to support," she said.

Follow Madelyn on Twitter: @madelynbeck8

Copyright 2018 Harvest Public Media

Madelyn Beck
Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative. Beck is from a small cow ranch in Manhattan, Montana. Her previous work was mostly based in the western U.S., but she has covered agriculture, environment and health issues from Alaska to Washington, D.C. Before joining Harvest and the Illinois Newsroom, she was as an energy reporter based in Wyoming for the public radio collaborative Inside Energy. Other publications include the Idaho Mountain Express, E&E News/EnergyWire, KRBD Rainbird Radio, the Montana Broadcasters Association, Montana Public Radio and the Tioga Tribune.