It’s been more than a year since the previous Farm Bill expired and the outlook for a new bill is now very uncertain.
House Republican leaders were hoping that at least 50 Democrats would support the bill, but in the end, only 24 did largely because the legislation cut the Food Stamp program by $20 billion.
GOP leaders also overestimated how many Republicans would support the bill. In the final vote, 62 Republicans opposed it primarily because they felt the bill was too expensive.
As part of the day long debate, the House also soundly rejected a new dairy program that allowed farmers to purchase insurance to stabilize milk prices whenever market forces pushed these prices below the cost of production.
Congressman Peter Welch was very disappointed by the dairy vote.
“It’s heartbreaking and this is something that’s really important to Vermont dairy. They’ve worked on it for years,” says Welch. “It really can make the difference between stability and catastrophe and it was going to save taxpayers money as well.”
Welch says it’s unclear what will happen next.
“I’m less concerned about the politics than I am about the reality for Vermont’s farmers and families, for folks depending on nutrition programs for environmental and conservation programs we have to keep at it,” he says.
Welch says it’s possible that House GOP leaders will propose even larger cuts in the Food Stamp program to try to win back some Republican votes.