Two Hudson Valley Congressmen Explain Their Farm Bill Approach

Jun 18, 2013

The Farm Bill, which contains the nation’s food stamp program, is slated to be voted upon this week in the House of Representatives. Two Congressmen from the Hudson Valley say their approach to the bill is for the greater good of agriculture in their region. However, their views do not sit well with many in their parties.

Republican Chris Gibson and Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney explained their approach to the five-year Farm Bill during an “Across the Aisle” event Monday in Poughkeepsie, a discussion about regional issues on which they agree. Both sit on the House Agriculture Committee, and both voted in May to advance the Farm Bill from the committee. One major point of contention in the bill is the amount of cutting, if any, to the food stamp program known as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Here’s Maloney:

Maloney has defended his vote in support of the Farm Bill that features $20.5 billion in SNAP cuts, saying he voted to get the bill out of committee and onto the House floor, where he says the massive cut that he does not actually support has a better chance of being greatly reduced. Gibson defends Maloney’s stance.

The Senate passed its version last week, containing about $4 billion in SNAP cuts over 10 years. And while Gibson is hopeful the House will pass the bill, the necessary votes may not be there yet. Regardless, both Congressmen find themselves swimming against their parties’ tides, which, as Maloney points out, put them in the same pool.

Gibson notes that the bill, especially concerning SNAP, is not for appropriation, rather:

Again, here’s Maloney.

Gibson says there are more positives in the bill, like conservation efforts, help for fruit and vegetable growers, support for research, and a beginning farmers program.

He says another step in the right direction pertains to dairy farmers, though he says these steps need to be greater down the road.

Meanwhile, several low-income residents in Maloney’s district recently delivered a letter to his district office in Newburgh, asking him to participate in the SNAP challenge and live on food stamps for one week. Maloney told WAMC:

More than 25 Democratic congressional members began the challenge last week.