Commentary: Today, Congressman Steve Pearce voted in favor of H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, which passed the House by a final vote of 213 to 211. More commonly known as the Farm Bill, this is the second time that House has voted on this critically important legislation for the nation. It was first brought to the House floor on May 18, 2018 and failed to pass.
Congressman Pearce voted for the bill both times it was considered before the House. His stance on the bill has not changed.
“We can all agree that Congress must do everything possible to help Americans who are in need,” said Pearce.“However, I believe Congress has an equally as significant role to play – providing hope and opportunity. In New Mexico, too many individuals and families are trapped in poverty, we owe it to them to help provide a pathway to success and prosperity. The Farm Bill helps provide a pathway to success. The job training and work requirements added will help New Mexicans learn the skills needed to succeed and to lift themselves out of poverty. The government should be doing all it can to help our fellow Americans prosper and not be reliant on assistance, while also ensuring continued access for anyone in need.”
The Farm bill requires working age adults, who are not disabled, pregnant, or the sole guardian of a child under 6, to work or receive job training for 20 hours a week. Roughly two-thirds of Americans on food assistance would not be required to work or to receive training due to one of these exemptions. Additionally, the change will not kick anyone off the program that is currently working and still meets the income requirements for food assistance. According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, there are 116,800 New Mexicans who would qualify for training program under this change.
Finally, the reforms to food assistance would end the practice of allowing Americans to receive benefits in two States, updates assistance tables for the first time in decades to ensure the elderly and other vulnerable populations have access to food assistance, and mandates that USDA have stronger verification so that those who do not qualify for food assistance are not receiving it.
This year’s Farm Bill also includes three amendments sponsored by Congressman Pearce.
- Allows the Village of Santa Clara to purchase lands of the former Fort Bayard Military Reservation.
- Reauthorizes the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which was first created in 2009, for 5-years.
- Creates a pilot project to study best methods to preserve our national forests and watersheds.
“I thank Chairman Conaway and my colleagues in Congress for supporting these critical amendments for New Mexico,” continued Pearce. “In New Mexico, we are all too familiar with the damage and destruction done by wildfires. Proper management is fundamental to the health of our forests, and ultimately to the prevention of wildfires. Reauthorizing CFLRP and initiating a pilot project on management best practices will play a leading role in developing and implementing new methods to maintain healthy and safe forests in New Mexico, and around the nation.
“And, allowing the Village to Santa Clara to purchase lands within the boundaries of the former Fort Bayard will bring greater economic opportunity to a village and community that is surrounded by federal lands. This may not seem significant, but for the small community of Santa Clara, and for the Forest Service who no longer wants this land, it will be hugely impactful on their ability to develop and create opportunity for the community.”