Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ag Committee Misses Opportunity. Senate fight not over yet.

The Senate is moving quickly on the 2007 farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee began its consideration of the farm bill on October 24 and voted the bill out of committee October 25.

The committee repeatedly expressed support for increases in the nutrition title, including the Food Stamp Program. But despite these assertions, the Senate Agriculture Committee did not find sufficient offsets to match the increases in food stamps passed by the House.

"Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee spoke eloquently about the need to do more to help the 35 million Americans who struggle to put food on their table. But their words didn't translate into changes in farm policy that would make that happen. We hope that when the full Senate takes up the farm bill, they'll follow through and make sure it reflects the values they were espousing," said Bread for the World president David Beckmann. "Small changes to commodity payment programs could make a big difference for hungry people in this country, many of whom live in rural communities."

Beckmann added, "The Agriculture Committee missed a great opportunity with the Lugar amendment." Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) proposed an amendment that would have provided additional funding for the Food Stamp Program (to increase asset limits and the minimum monthly benefit) by making a small cut to Direct Payments in the commodity title. It was defeated by a vote of 17-4. Senators Brown (D-OH), Casey (D-PA) and McConnell (R-KY) voted with Lugar for the amendment. For more information, read Bread for the World's press statement.

Bread for the World will send out an action alert early next week, once we have further details of the Agriculture Committee bill. Please check your email for the message to give your senators as the farm bill moves to the floor. Stay tuned as we work to pass a strong farm bill in the Senate!

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