Latham on farm bill and appropriations

Published online: Jul 03, 2013

Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa says dividing the farm bill into separate farm policy and nutrition program legislation is not a good idea because it needs broad support for urban and rural legislators.

And, in light of the House's failure to pass a farm bill last month, Latham says extending the current farm bill would be "an unfortunate last resort."

While Latham, a Republican, voted for the House farm bill that contained a last-minute amendment that would have allow states to tie food stamp eligibility to job requirements - he tells Brownfield that getting a farm bill passed is the top priority.

"The concept of giving states more opportunities to have their food stamp programs, SNAP program, adjust it to their particular interest, I'm supportive of that. But, again, I want to get a farm bill done."

Latham says he's been assured by Speaker Boehner that there will be a concerted effort to get a House bill passed that can go to conference with the Senate-passed farm bill.

Latham is traveling with Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey across the state meeting with farmers and others in agriculture.

While all eyes in agriculture are on the U.S. House with hopes that a new farm bill will be put forth and pass, there is also related interest in what the House Appropriations committee will be doing with the ag budget.

Latham is on the House Appropriations Committee as well as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. The Fiscal Year 2014 proposal, which could come up for debate next week, is less than what the Senate has proposed for agriculture and related funding.

"What we need to have happen is to have a large agreement - as far as tax policy, as far as budget caps - with the administration, with the Senate to actually be able to proceed. There's a huge difference between the allocations of the Senate and what the House has."

The House bill contains cuts for the Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) nutrition program. It also proposes cuts in renewable energy development, food safety, ag research, international food aid and rural economic development.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the measure.