The will-it-ever-pass 2013 farm bill (H.R. 2642) got some reprieve earlier this week as the House passed a portion of the bill, even though about 80 percent of the bill—which represents the nutrition section—was not passed. The farm-only portion got no support from democrats.
And splitting up the bill is causing major issues.
The controversial Food Safety Modernization Act has been delayed in the latest version. If approved, it would require the FDA to strengthen its scientific and economic analysis, and is expected to further delay the farm bill's passing.
According to Food Safety News, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), called the portion that passed “a farm bill that nobody wants,” on Twitter, adding that it “would undermine critical food safety law.”
Food Safety News reported that Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said "the House’s first phase of the farm bill is “not a real Farm Bill and is an insult to rural America.” She pointed out that splitting the bill in two was “strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food and conservation groups.”
There was some good news for hemp farmers though, as an amendment to the farm bill to legalize hemp production was included in the latest version. This amendment will allow colleges and universities to grow hemp for agriculture and research uses, if states already allow hemp farming.
"Although I strongly opposed the Republican Farm Bill, I was pleased to see that the bipartisan amendment that I offered with Representatives Blumenauer and Massie was included in the final bill that passed the House of Representatives today," said Rep. Polis in a statement. "This commonsense amendment will allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp cultivation is already legal. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this language becomes law."
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Lima Pix