As Congress Passes a New Farm Bill, Sonny Perdue Grumbles About Poor People Still Getting SNAP Benefits

Here’s what made it into the final legislation.

Andrew Harnik/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Congress has finally passed a new farm bill, that twice-a-decade legislation that shapes US agriculture and hunger policy. The bill has lately become a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans, especially in regards to adding work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But the bill passed Tuesday in the Senate and Wednesday in the House, leaving SNAP intact, throwing out a last-minute push for expanded forest management, and legalizing industrial hemp after close to a century of exile.

In a statement, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue commended the bill’s passage, but couldn’t resist commenting on the Republican-backed policies that were left out of it:

“While I feel there were missed opportunities in forest management and in improving work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, this bill does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities. I commend Congress for bringing the Farm Bill across the finish line and am encouraging President Trump to sign it.”

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) released a statement echoing Perdue’s call to President Donald Trump and hailing new insurance coverage options for dairy farmers, especially given the growing dairy crisis. “Rural America is facing so many challenges and this bill goes a long way toward providing needed certainty to farmers and ranchers,” he said.

The bill also included a new provision focused on soil health, which was pushed for inclusion by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and supported by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and others. It incentivizes farmers to adopt environmentally friendly soil management practices like reducing tillage, planting cover crops, and designing crop rotations that help sequester carbon.

“As a farmer, I have seen the benefits of these practices on my own farm and look forward to working with the USDA to document these environmental values on a larger scale,” said farmer Keith Alverson, who is on the board of the National Corn Growers Association and a member of environmental group E2, which promoted the provision.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend