Congress passes $867 billion Farm Bill with bipartisan support

Congress passes $867 billion Farm Bill with bipartisan support

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

House lawmakers approve the revised Farm Bill in sweeping fashion with full bipartisan support. The compromise on this $867 billion measure includes no further restrictions on work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

After two years of vigorous debate and gridlock, the senate passes the Farm Bill Tuesday 87 to 13, leading up to the House passing it in a whopping 369 to 47 vote. This will provide farmers a safety net for at least the next five years, but Republicans weren't able to get everything they wanted in the bill. 

This includes stricter work requirements in SNAP. Congressman Arrington said Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue promises to make up the difference with regulations. That gave House Republicans the confidence to go ahead with the deal.

"The force in effect of the House reforms will be in play, at least in the short term," Arrington said. "I wish we could have codified the work requirements in law and permanently fixed that problem, but we got as much done as we could."

He said the urgency was spurred by House Democrats' victory in the midterm elections.

"If we had waited, and I think a lot of my Republican colleagues felt this way as well, if we had waited any longer and we didn't strike a deal here at the end of the 115th congress, we would've been handing the pen to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to rewrite the Farm Bill."

On top of that, Steve Verett, with Plains Cotton Growers said the ongoing trade war with China during the gridlock period also increased pressure for a compromise.

"The markets don't like uncertainty, and so in these times of trade turmoil and everything that's going on, it provides certainty for the next five years to producers and their bankers," Verett said.

With the steep declines in commodity prices amidst this trade war, the bill will give farmers what they drastically need: security.

"The purpose of the Farm Bill is to be there in times of extended low prices, and that's what we were missing in cotton," Verett said. "That is there now. The safety net is there, and it provides that certainty for the next five years."

While Verett and Congressman Arrington say this bill is not an end-all solution, they agree it's a crucial victory for farmers across the nation and specifically in West Texas, where cotton is king.

President Trump is expected to sign the measure this week saying farmers will be "well taken care of."

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