Jun 13, 2018

Washington, DC (May 18, 2018) Today, the House of Representatives failed to pass the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, more commonly known as the Farm Bill. Congressman Pearce voted for this 5-year authorization included a compilation of critical programs that promote and protect our nation’s food supply and enables the farming and ranching way of life across the United States to continue.

The bill also reformed our nation’s food assistance program to provide 116,800 New Mexicans with new job training and assistance opportunities.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Farm Bill, which would have provided new job training and assistance opportunities for 116,800 New Mexicans failed to pass the House,” said Pearce. “We can all agree that Congress must do everything possible to help Americans who are in need. However, I believe Congress has an equally as significant role to play – providing hope and opportunity. That is exactly what this bill would have done. In New Mexico, too many are trapped in poverty, and we owe it to them to help provide a pathway to success and prosperity. The job training and work requirements added, would have helped 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. We failed in this mission today.”

The Farm bill required 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 have been required to work or receive training due to one of these exemptions. Additionally, the change would not have kicked anyone off the program who is currently working, but still meets the income requirements for assistance. According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, there are 116,800 New Mexicans who would have qualified for training 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.

In addition to reforming our nation’s food assistance program, the Farm bill would have:

  • Expanded broadband in rural New Mexican communities;
  • Repealed the enormously harmful Waters of the United State (WOTUS) rule; and
  • Provided needed changes to forest policy to prevent wildfire, ensure the health of our lands management, and expand economic opportunity.

This year’s Farm bill also included three amendments added by Congressman Pearce.

  1. Allowed the Village of Santa Clara to purchase lands of the former Fort Bayard Military Reservation.
  2. Reauthorized the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which was first created in 2009, for 5-years.
  3. Created a pilot project to study best methods to preserve our national forests and watersheds.

“In New Mexico, we are all too familiar with the damage and destruction done by wildfires” continued Pearce. “Proper management is fundamental to the health of our forests, and ultimately to the preservation of wildfires. Reauthorizing CFLRP and initiating a pilot project on management best practices will play a leading roles in developing and implementing new methods to maintain healthy and safe forests in New Mexico, and around the nation.

“And, allowing the Village of Santa Clara to purchase lands within the boundaries of the former Fort Bayard would have brought greater economic opportunity to a village and community surrounded by federal lands. This may not seem significant, but for the small community of Santa Clara, it would have hugely impacted their ability to develop and create opportunities for the community.”