House Rejects Massive Farm Bill

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In a vote of 234-195, the House has voted down an overhaul of dairy policy in a massive farm bill that Republicans say would raise the price of a gallon of milk.
   
Supporters of the overhaul said the program was necessary to keep milk prices high.

But milk, cheese and other dairy companies said those high prices would be passed on to consumers.

North country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 21st District) voted for the bill.

"Although imperfect, New York farmers have waited too long for a bill that gives them the certainty to create jobs and grow their operations," Owens said. "Failure of the Farm Bill today is yet another stumbling block delaying critical help for farmers across the state."

"There has been good, bipartisan work to complete a Farm Bill in the past," Owens said, "and I call upon my colleagues to continue working in that spirit. It is my hope that future versions of the Farm Bill include stronger protections for dairy farmers and less dramatic reductions in the SNAP programs that protect seniors, veterans and children in my district, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this done."

So, for north country dairy farmers like John Peck, the question is: what now?

"We all need to be able to know how much we're going to make," Peck said, "and to be able to make a budget that we can live within or at least try to make investments in our business."

The vote does away with a proposed program that could dictate how much milk a farmer could produce.
   
House Speaker John Boehner called the program "Soviet-style."

He supported the amendment.

Voting in favor of the bill were 24 Democrats and 171 Republicans.

Voting no were 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans.

Many Democrats didn't support the billions of dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- what used to be called food stamps -- and Republicans say the cuts weren't enough.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said the measure would have cut $20.5 billion from SNAP.

"I am proud to see House Democrats stand strong and reject this draconian cut that would literally take food away from millions of those who desperately need it -- from veterans and military families, to seniors living on fixed incomes, hungry children and struggling families who rely on SNAP to make ends meet," she said in a prepared statement.

"Families who are living in poverty -- hungry children, seniors, troops and veterans who are just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and put food on the table -- they did not spend this nation into debt, and we should not be trying to balance the budget on their backs," she said. "They deserve better from this Congress."

Peck says it's all a political battle that's letting the real problem facing farmers fall by the wayside.

"The fact remains that the processors need to have more consideration for how they determine a price to the farmers and that's all tied into the federal milk marketing order," he said.

The rejection of the Farm Bill comes at a time when the use of food stamps are at record highs.

Farmers like John Peck say everyone should be able to put food on the table, but it shouldn't be at the expense of those who produce it. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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