(UPDATED COVERAGE, 4:50 p.m.) The 2013 farm bill stalled June 20 when the House of Representatives voted it down, with 195 for, 234 against.
While some lawmakers had predicted narrow approval earlier in the day, the outcome of the afternoon vote may have been altered by a late dairy program amendment opposed by some House Agriculture Committee members, according to Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.
“We’re deeply disappointed that the House didn’t pass the bill today and at this point we see no other viable path forward at this point in time,” Guenther said.
He said lawmakers who support the bill need to see if they can find a way forward.
“Right now it is dead,” he said.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., promised to continue work on the farm bill in wake of the decisive defeat.
“We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need,” Lucas said in a statement.
Calling the vote a “tremendous disappointment for all Americans,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that House Republican leadership failed for the second year in a row to deliver consensus on a farm bill because of its intent to cut food stamps. “Unfortunately, the House version of this bill would have unfairly denied food assistance for millions of struggling families and their children, while failing to achieve needed reforms or critical investments to continue economic growth in rural America,” he said.
The 2008 farm bill was extended to Sept. 31 this year, and Guenther predicted lawmakers may try to extend it again by one year by late summer.
The Senate approved its version of the farm bill June 10 by a 66-27 margin, but House debate faltered on cuts to the food stamp program, dissent about dairy programs and opposition to federal premiums to crop insurance.