Farm Bill

With a deadline looming and pressure on lawmakers escalating, a large bipartisan, bicameral conference committee gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first formal negotiations of the Farm Bill.

Many on the committee — which includes a whopping 56 conferees — reiterated that it is imperative that work on the new Farm Bill be completed this month — before the current one expires on Sept. 30.

But the biggest sticking point between the competing House and Senate bills has to do with changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often called food stamps.

The Senate took a crucial step Thursday to making sure that, among other things, the hungry are fed, farmers have crop price protections and land is preserved beyond Sept. 30 — that is, the day the farm bill expires.

Editors note, June 28, 2018: The CDC says the data referenced in this story about farmer suicides is incorrect, due to "coding issues" and that the agency will work to correct the data, according to media outlet The New Food Economy. Updated suicide numbers for farmers have not yet been released.

Farming involves a degree of inherent risk, such as environmental and biological factors like drought and disease, which can come and go practically without warning. Depressed commodity and dairy prices and a burgeoning trade war are adding to that usual stress and taking a toll on farmers.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

The House rejected a $867 billion farm bill on Friday — after spending days negotiating with key conservatives in an attempt to pass the bill without the support of Democrats.

The vote was 198-213. Every Democrat voted against the measure, as did 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus and voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.

In the small city of Fort Morgan, Colorado, 33-year-old Verónica delicately stacks cans of food into her mini shopping cart, strolling the narrow aisles of the Rising Up food pantry to gather eggs, milk, apples and an extra-large box of cereal.

It’s a challenge for people with severe mental illnesses to hold down a job or get the medical help they need. And that extends to when they try to alleviate hunger by getting on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

There’s a Republican-authored proposal in the next farm bill that would require millions more people to work or volunteer in order to receive federal food assistance.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the biggest federal program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that millions of Americans find themselves in — sometimes for a few months, sometimes for several years.

If Republicans in Congress have their way, millions of people who get food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits.