It was passed almost two months after its deadline, but the end result is better late than never for the latest version of the federal farm bill.
The $860 billion measure approved last week includes a stronger safety net for dairy farmers, financial support for people looking to start a farm, and continued access to nutritional food for people in need of assistance.
A key to getting the bill passed was the fact that House Republicans agreed to back down on the inclusion of some controversial provisions — the biggest of which was stricter work requirements for people using food stamps. The White House had been pushing to strip a larger number of unemployed people from being eligible for food stamps and preventing states from waiving work requirements, but the debate had been holding up a bill that also preserves and expands crop insurance, a program vital to the survival of farms.
The bill also retains regulations on pesticides that some had sought to roll back, and legalizes industrial hemp, which can be made into products that do not cause a high, as an option for farmers looking to diversify.
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher called the bill "a major victory for New York's farmers, rural communities and consumers."
The final bipartisan version of the farm bill is a win for agriculture — and for New Yorkers who rely on food stamps to help provide nutritious food for their families. It's one of the few bright spots to come out of Congress in recent weeks, and we're glad to see that something of substance can still be accomplished in Washington.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.