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    House Rejects Farm Bill; Food Stamp Cuts Blamed

    Defeat leaves farm program spending in limbo

    United Fresh Produce Association signaled profound disappointment that the House of Representatives rejected the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) Act of 2013.

    With 62 Republicans joining 172 Democrats, the unexpected 234 to 195 vote came a year after House leaders refused to bring the five-year, $940 billion measure to the floor at the urging of lawmakers pushing for deeper cuts in the food stamp program prior to supporting it.

    “We felt we had a very strong bill for specialty crops that was supported by members from both sides of the aisle,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh’s SVP of public policy. “We strongly encourage the House Leadership and the House Agriculture Committee to get back together and bring back to the House floor a bill that can pass before the current extension expires at the end of September.”

    The proposed farm bill has been working through Congress for almost two years. Current authorization for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, passed in 2008, was extended last year after the Senate approved a plan and the House declined to consider its own.

    The bill’s passage would have dealt sharp cuts in annual funds from the food stamp program and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them.

    Meanwhile, consumer advocate groups, such as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), welcomed the House rejection of the proposed Farm Bill.

    “Now is time to press the restart button,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA president. “The House of Representatives defeated a Farm Bill that would have eliminated food assistance for 2 million individuals, many of whom are in working families with children or seniors. Now Congress has the opportunity to debate a serious food policy that aims to feed all Americans, not take food from the hungry.”

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