FRAC, enviro groups: ‘No farm bill Is better than a bad farm bill’
The Food Research & Action Center, the leading lobbying group on food stamps, and a group of leftist-oriented environmental groups, have scheduled a news conference on Monday to announce that they will tell Congress “No farm bill is better than a bad farm bill.”
The announcement means that the lobbying coalition on the farm bill is officially split on the importance of passing a farm bill this year. Major farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, commodity groups and many conservation groups have called on Congress to finish the farm bill this year. But FRAC and other major nutrition groups never signed those letters.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which represents smaller, environmentally oriented farmers, encouraged Congress to pass a farm bill before Sept. 30, when the 2014 farm bill expired. But Congress did not finish the bill by that date and the authorization for many smaller programs that matter to NSAC members ended.
NSAC issued a media advisory announcing the Monday news conference today.
In recent weeks, there has been increasing talk about a farm bill extension because there are such big differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, particularly over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the formal name for food stamps, and only limited progress on finishing a conference report.
The House farm bill includes new work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries and restrictions on eligibility, while the Senate bill maintains current work requirements and includes new rule enforcement language.
A FRAC spokeswoman said today, “We are pushing for passage of the Senate bill as a pathway to a good farm bill.”
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., backs the Senate SNAP provisions, but has said that he and the House Democratic leadership want to finish the bill this year, even though Peterson would chair the committee if the Democrats take control of the House.
The other groups that will participate in the news conference are the Environmental Working Group, Food Policy Action, which is closely tied to EWG, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The news conference will be held at the National Press Club Monday at 10 a.m.