06/20/2013 05:31 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2013

In the Richest Nation in the World, Our Farm Bill Should Not Lead to More Hunger

Today I voted against the House farm bill reauthorization, a vote that helped to block passage of this legislation. The Republican farm bill forced us to make a false choice between feeding hungry children and supporting American agriculture.

The House FARRM Act would have cut $20.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The SNAP program is a vital lifeline for millions of people who experience hunger and food insecurity across the United States. These drastic cuts by House Republicans would leave more than 32,000 Minnesotans without the food assistance they need. Nationwide, 2 million people would have less on their plate, including 210,000 children who would lose access to free school lunches. In the richest nation in the world, our farm bill should not lead to more hunger.

I am not celebrating the failure of this legislation. Every five years the farm bill reauthorization gives us the opportunity to support family farmers around the nation who work hard every day to bring fresh, healthy food to American grocery shelves, farmers markets, and tables. We need a strong farm bill that gives assistance to farmers during times of drought, creates markets for local goods, protects our environment, and helps struggling families bridge the gap between hard times and a full dinner table.

Unfortunately, this farm bill turned into a Republican gift to corporate farming: continuing billion-dollar handouts to corporate farms. In addition, the bill eliminated basic conservation programs that protect our clean air and water. This was not the farm bill that Americans needed or wanted.

We should do better. We should ensure that farmers get the support they need, and help a single mother out of work put food on the table. We should cut billions of dollars in oil subsidies, rather than reduce support for hungry children, families, disabled and elderly. We should pass a farm bill that doesn't force the false choice between helping farmers and helping the hungry. I look forward to the opportunity to vote on that bill.