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House Fails To Pass Farm Bill, Indiana Lawmakers Divided Over SNAP Benefits

By Jeanie Lindsay, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Business, Government, Statewide News
The St. Vincent DePaul food pantry in Indianapolis.

The federal farm bill failed in the House on Friday, largely over issues on immigration reform. But another contentious issue divided Indiana representatives. A provision in the bill would have required people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — to work or attend job training for 20 hours a week.

Congressman Jim Banks voted for the bill along with his fellow Indiana Republicans. The two Indiana Democratic Congressmen voted in opposition.

“I don’t think there’s anything more compassionate that we can do than to encourage individuals to find work rather than continue to take a handout,” says Banks.

In an email statement, Indiana Democratic Congressman André Carson says he’s relieved the bill didn’t pass. He says he’s worried it would have caused some of his constituents to go hungry.

Bob White is the director of national government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau. He says the Bureau would like to have seen the bill pass, but they’re also closely tied to the SNAP program.

“It’s a release for a lot of our produce farmers to take their excess produce to the local food banks. So we were kind of torn on that,” says White.

Another provision in the bill, put forth by Indiana Congressman Jim Banks would have defeated the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule. It determined which smaller bodies of water are regulated by federal agencies. The rule, developed under Barack Obama’s presidency, is currently on hold under President Donald Trump.

Several environmental groups also opposed the farm bill, especially for its many provisions regarding pesticides.