By Melanie Condon

Oppose the King Amendment in the House version of the Farm Bill and support the Senate versions’ nutrition title. This was the message from NCSL’s leadership in a Nov. 12 letter to the House and Senate Farm Bill conference leaders. 

The letter expressed concerns that Sec. 11312 in the House Farm Bill (H.R. 2642), a.k.a., the King Amendment, “is in violation of the 10th amendment,” and would affect a number of laws that states enact to protect their citizens from invasive pests and livestock diseases, maintain quality standards for all agricultural products, and ensure food safety, all for the benefit of their citizens. Some examples are laws in Illinois and other states that place restrictions on firewood imported from other states; a law in New Hampshire that requires certain specifications in the production of maple products; and many more.

NCSL also weighed in on another of the major points of contention between the two chambers, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. NCSL opposes provisions in H.R. 2642 that would increase the state administrative costs and complexities in SNAP. In particular, the provisions that limit categorical eligibility will require states to re-determine an individual’s eligibility for SNAP after his or her eligibility has already been established in a program with similar eligibility requirements. It's clear these provisions would limit state flexibility. NCSL urged the conferees to adopt the Senate passed SNAP provisions that were included in S. 954. NCSL also strongly supports provisions in both the House and Senate bills that provide access to healthy food options, including locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, to low-income families.

With a number of programs and provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill having already expired, and more set for expiration shortly, completing work on the 2013 Farm Bill Reauthorization this year to ensure certainty for both the farm and nutrition communities is essential. How can you help?  Call your congressional delegation to support a Farm Bill that DOES NOT include the King Amendment but DOES contain the Senate’s version of the nutrition title. 

Melanie Condon is a policy associate in NCSL's State-Federal Relations Division.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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