Part of the problem with getting the farm bill to the House floor is that conservatives are programmed to dislike the vast majority of it right off the bat. That's because about 80 percent goes to funding nutrition programs for the poor.
That's why freshman Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., who sits on the Agriculture Committee, says if the bill reaches the House floor, he will offer an amendment to split it into two pieces of legislation. That way, he says, lawmakers can decide about the nutrition component independently of the commodity title.
"I think we could decrease the cost of both programs if they were split up," Stutzman said. "Together they become this huge spending bill. If we could focus on just farm policy we could get members to realize the importance of agriculture. Then we could deal with the nutrition title by itself rather than coupling the two together."
It's an idea that has resonance with some tea party-aligned House members. At a meeting with five conservative lawmakers, four of them, Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Jeffrey Landry of Louisiana, and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, said they would support the amendment. Conservatives see it as a way to zero in even more on the $80 billion food stamp program that about one in seven Americans tap.
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