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

May 18, 2018

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. 

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) 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, U.S. Rep. André Carson (D-Indianapolis) 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 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

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.