In a 195-234 vote Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives defeated its almost $1 trillion version of a 2013 Farm Bill, leaving the fate of the Senate's recently passed version uncertain.
The Senate Farm Bill includes $68.2 million in mandatory funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps rural businesses and agricultural producers invest in renewable energy projects. The House Farm Bill did not include REAP funding, but had the legislation passed, both the House and Senate bills would have went to a conference committee – leaving the possibility for REAP funding to make its way into the final legislation.
Ryan Stroschein, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, says the advocacy group is disappointed by the House's action.
"Usually, the House leadership doesn't bring a bill to the floor unless they're pretty confident it could pass," he tells NAW. "Obviously, that didn't happen in this case."
Nonetheless, Stroschein remains somehwat optimistic. "There are a lot of reforms in this bill that people want to see get done. I think they'll come back to the drawing board and see is they can reconfigure this bill in a way that will get more votes," he says. "I don't know if they'll succeed, but I think they will try."
Congress has not passed a Farm Bill since 2008.