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Real Reform is Hard to Find

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The House of Representatives faced a clear choice on Thursday afternoon when it came time to vote on the farm bill – formally known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. It’s kind of ironic that “reform” is in the title, since a lack of true reform helped doom the bill. 

And it wasn’t close. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson could only manage 195 votes in support of their so-called reform bill. That’s 13 votes fewer than Rep. Ron Kind’s crop insurance reform amendment received. Think about that. More members of the House supported crop insurance reform than supported the entire farm bill.

Maybe some people think it’s reform to kick up to 2 million people in need of nutrition assistance out of the SNAP program.

Maybe some people think it’s reform to increase unlimited crop insurance subsidies.

Maybe some people think it’s reform to provide lavish price guarantees for row crop growers.

Maybe some people think it’s reform to make deep cuts in highly popular conservation programs.

Maybe some people think it’s reform to limit the ability of states to set their own standards for farm and food production.

But I don’t. And neither did most members of the House.

What have we learned from this vote? We’ve learned that real reform is much more important than reform in name only.