WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said he is optimistic a massive spending bill that failed in the House last week will pass later this year.
The farm bill is a $867 billion bill that serves as a safety net for millions of farmers across the country. It failed by a 198-213 vote May 18 in the House.
Tipton, R-Cortez, who voted in favor of the bill, said Kelsey Mix, spokesperson for the congressman.
“This legislation would preserve and build upon important resources that provide American farmers with the certainty they need to support the global food supply, as well as make commonsense reforms to nutrition programs to help Americans escape poverty,” Mix wrote in a statement to The Durango Herald.
Mix said the congressman is “optimistic” the bill will pass by the Sept. 30 deadline. Every five years, Congress passes a farm bill that matches farm subsidies with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or better known as food stamps.
This year, the bill limits food stamp eligibility with more work requirements and a lower income ceiling.
La Plata County Commissioner Julie Westendorff said the food stamp portion of the bill has a big impact for local residents.
“We have a lot of folks because the cost of living is so high in La Plata County that there’s quite a bit of food insecurity,” Westendorff said. “We see that looking at our (Durango) Food Bank and the food assistance that comes through SNAP for families and children is something ... that I know our department of human services views as an important part of the farm bill.”
Additionally, the bill would have made receiving subsidies easier for farmers. The federal government spends around $17 billion annually on farm subsidies, including on crop insurance. According to Westendorff, not many crops in La Plata County would be eligible for the insurance, as there aren’t many commodity-based crops.
Westendorff said conservation easement measures in past farm bills are also relevant to people of La Plata County.
“We have numerous large property owners that have put land in conservation easement, which certainly helps preserve the rural pasture and our open space,” Westendorff said. “Rural development grants are important to La Plata County.”
The farm bill is expected to come up for a vote again in the third week of June.
Maria Carrasco is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.