Isn't It Weird That ... Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray, as well as U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1), have sent out statements to the press gloating about the passage (finally) of a five-year U.S. Farm Bill in the House by a vote of 251-166?
The farm bill, which Republicans have repeatedly delayed because they want even more draconian cuts to food stamps and conservation programs (as well as more giveaways to Big Ag), is still a pretty terrible deal, if you believe food stamps are important, believe that consumers deserve information about what they're eating, that the government has an obligation to fund conservation and environmental programs for future generations, or we should protect pollinators such as honeybees
The farm bill cuts food stamp funding by $8.6 billion over the next ten years (in part by specifying that college students and undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for benefits); eliminates funding for research into pollinators like honeybees; cuts funding for biomass energy research; and reduces conservation funding by $6 billion.
In a statement, Murray said the farm bill "represents another critical compromise in which no one got everything they wanted, but colleagues from both sides of the aisle produced legislation that will help families, businesses, and our economy continue to grow."
DelBene added, "I’m disappointed that nutrition assistance is reduced at a time when the need is high. However, this bill will not eliminate SNAP eligibility for anyone still in need."
In drafting the final farm bill, Congress did decline to rescind the requirement that meat producers identify the country where their product originated (the so-called Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL, requirement.) And it reduced the cuts to food stamps—the majority of which go to people of working age—from the $40 billion the Republicans in the House initially proposed. Additionally, the final bill doesn't include a provision that would have banned state governments from passing laws governing the living conditions of cage-raised animals such as chickens.
Overall, though, the bill is a disappointment. Granted, the Democrats are negotiating with a party whose leaders, to quote Melissa McEwan, don't think people are entitled to food.
But capitulation has not exactly been a winning strategy on other fronts—Democrats express support for reprodutive rights in theory, but that hasn't prevented them from being chipped away at state by state—nor will it be on this one.