Alabama farmers expressed disappointment over today’s defeat of a farm bill proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell sent letters to Alabama’s Congressional delegation urging support of the farm bill. He said today’s 198-213 vote was a setback, but the organization remains hopeful Congress will reach agreement to reauthorize food, conservation and agricultural programs.
“This legislation is essential to Alabama’s farm families and the state’s overall economy,” Parnell said. “Farming is an inherently risky business. Farmers continually face a number of factors beyond their control including weather, natural disasters, disease and trade barriers. The farm bill is critical to helping our farmers mitigate those risks.”
The measure failed under pressure from the Freedom Caucus to force a vote on immigration reform. Support from the Freedom Caucus was essential as no democrats supported the bill.
Alabama’s Congressional delegation was split on party lines. Alabama’s Democrat Rep. Terri Sewell voted “no,” while Alabama’s Republican Reps. Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks and Gary Palmer voted “yes.” Rogers sits on the House Agriculture Committee and has sought input from the Federation and its members while working on the farm bill, which was supported by President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, House members considered a variety of amendments to the farm bill proposal approved by the House Agriculture Committee. The Federation’s Farm Bill Committee and staff reviewed the amendments and sent letters to Alabama representatives recommending positions on 20 of the changes. The final bill was consistent with 19 of those positions.
“We believe the bill was a balance of providing a strong safety net for our farmers while also being fiscally sound,” Parnell said. “It would have contributed more than $100 billion to deficit reduction over the next 10 years.”
The U.S. Senate is expected to unveil its version of the farm bill in the next few weeks. The House also could bring the measure back up for a vote relatively soon.
Agriculture generates more than $70 billion in economic activity in Alabama annually and accounts for more than 500,000 jobs.