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As House heads home, Heritage calls for splitting farm bill, NFU says don’t

Amidst reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., favors splitting the farm bill into two parts, the Heritage Foundation today issued a new report calling for the food stamp and farm programs to be separate bills, and listing six “reforms” that the conservative group says must be made in the farm program.

The six items on Heritage’s list are:
  1. Splitting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, informally known as food stamps) from the farm bill
  2. Adding no new farm programs, including those in this year’s bill to replace direct payments
  3. Assuring no increase in crop insurance costs
  4. Capping crop insurance subsidies
  5. Repealing the sugar and dairy programs
  6. Converting food stamps into a “work activation” program.

Meanwhile, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said in a news release today that separating the two programs might doom the farm bill.

“Separating farm programs from nutrition programs and proposing two bills would be a huge mistake,” Johnson said.

“The likely result would be to kill the bill. This will allow Congress to continue to take no action to provide certainty to U.S. family farmers, ranchers, rural residents and those who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“As the providers of the food, feed, fiber and fuel, we have an obligation to educate the public on the importance of farmers and the support we lend to SNAP and other programs,” Johnson added. “Two bills would continue to perpetuate the public’s misconception on where their food comes from and widen the gap between the farmer and the consumer.”

“This would also be a disruption to the historic coalition between urban, rural and conservation groups,” Johnson concluded. “The farm bill has historically been a bipartisan effort, and must remain a bipartisan effort. It is a shame that politics are getting in the way of providing for so many people.”

The House went into recess today for the July 4 holiday and the Senate left late Thursday after passing the immigration reform bill. Both the House and the Senate will return on July 8.