Local Farmers Hoped For Bipartisan Pass of Farm Bill

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

June 21, 2013

The U.S. House of Representatives, including 5th district Congressman Robert Hurt, rejected the 2013 Farm Bill on Thursday. It would have set the stage for farmers for the next five years.

Jamie Barrett, a farmer at Bellair Farm in Charlottesville says it's hard to believe elected officials couldn't even agree on the farm bill, something that's been bipartisan for the most part for years.

"It's very frustrating," Barrett said. "To not have that bill, it's just a failure."

But he says farmers need the government for more than just dollars.

"We need it for education, relief for families who can't afford to come out and buy fresh produce," Barret said. "To get that support so we can do our job and reach the community we want to reach and the governments just kind of stalled out and we're not getting any help."

The vote was 234 to 195 and many who opposed the bill say the cuts into benefit and food stamps programs were too deep.

In Charlottesville those who do use food stamps or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) can exchange them for money to use at the Charlottesville City Market.

Members of Market Central, the non-profit which handles the exchange at the market every week, say the program is up-and-coming and could be very successful.

"It's just a great way to get money through peoples hands and into farmers pockets so any reduction in benefits would certainly hurt not only the recipients but also the larger community," said Matt Baer.

Senator Tim Kaine came to Charlottesville at the end of May to talk to local farmers about the bill before it was sent to the House. Kaine says, "We need a Farm Bill. Since the Senate version passed by a sizable and bipartisan margin, I hope the House will take it up and adopt it promptly."

Representative Robert Hurt also gave CBS19 a statement:
"While there are certain provisions in the Farm Bill that are important, I was unable to support the legislation because of the level of spending and the lack of policy reform. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance those policies that will truly support our vital agriculture sector and keep faith with future generations of Americans."

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