Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

5 Farm Bill Nuggets: Marijuana, White Potatoes and More

The House GOP on Monday officially filed a 109-page bill to fund the country’s nutrition programs — Part II of its bifurcated farm bill strategy.

Though most of the chatter relates to the legislation’s $40 billion in cuts to nutrition programs over a decade, it also contains some interesting provisions with some interesting stories behind them.

In order of appearance, five choice nuggets contained in the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013:

1. A few weeks after the Justice Department announced it would not be seeking to challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington states — and mere months after the District of Columbia appeared to be getting its medical marijuana dispensaries up and running — the nutrition bill for floor consideration this week would instruct the Secretary of Agriculture to “promulgate rules to ensure that medical marijuana is not treated as a medical expense.”

2. In this new bill, lawmakers don’t want to risk inadvertently catering to a now-infamous “lobster-eating California surfer” who also happens to be a beneficiary of food aid. They also don’t want to give taxpayer-funded nutrition assistance to lottery and gambling winners, either. The measure would explicitly prohibit these characters from receiving food stamps, though this provision has been seen in earlier farm bill incarnations. 

3. Members of Congress don’t want lobster-eating surfers, lottery winners or gamblers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and they also don’t want drug abusers or convicted felons. The GOP nutrition bill would require applicants to be tested for “unlawful use of controlled substances” and set “eligibility disqualifications for certain convicted felons.”

4. For some spud enthusiasts, a victim of the war on healthy foods has been the white potato, the starchy, carb-heavy root vegetable that children love to eat. In the Senate, Susan Collins, R-Maine, has been a fierce defender. But House Republican lawmakers have now, too, rushed into the potato’s court: The legislation before the House this week requires the Agriculture secretary to “review the economic and public health benefits of white potatoes on low-income families who are determined to be at nutritional risk.”

5. And finally, as the very last provision in the nutrition bill, another mandate of the secretary of Agriculture: “as soon as practicable after the date of enactment … finalize and implement a plan to increase the purchase of Kosher and Halal food from food manufacturers” under The Emergency Food Assistance Program. The provision has a certain timeliness to it, as both the Muslim observance of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days have recently wrapped up.

  • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

    With the whole of civilization resulting from the individual decisions, actions, and interactions of each of us, making the most of our own unique abilities helps maximize civilization’s potential.

  • Liberals are Marxists

    The rate at which progress in the West has nearly halted, due to socialist tendencies, is one of the prominent features of recent history.

  • derfelcadarn

    How will the costs of the drug testing be covered ? By additional taxes on the non recipient non drug user ? Although this is a laudable goal paying for it was never considered. These inconvenient details are commonly referred to as unintended consequences.

    • Chris Smith

      Don’t worry, most cities mandate drug testing for women giving birth. Now the women will lose their babies and their food stamps for eating a poppy seed bagle earlier in the day.

      • YoungConservative

        You do know that you would have to eat a whole tub of poppy seeds for it to trigger a false positive?

        Why should my tax dollars go toward someone spending all of their money on drugs? Most burglaries are drug related, so they are stealing from honest citizens twice.

        • Chris Smith

          You’re wrong:
          http://www.businessinsider.com/lawsuit-poppy-seed-2013-7
          And you’re wrong:
          http://www.webmd.com/news/20100528/drug-tests-often-trigger-false-positives

          That said, I’m not opposed to having limitations on people recieving aid from the government. Perhaps having aid delegated and delivered at the Federal level isn’t the best solution to the problem. Most of the farm bill is a kick-back to large food and farming congolmerates and state-level special interest groups, like Maine Potato Farmers. I’d think a conservative would be more interested in ending this relic of the New Deal program completely instead of trying to shape it into a blunt instrument of social constraint.

          • YoungConservative

            I would love to see states have control of issues instead of the feds, but it is what it is and you have to try to make the best of it.

            You still haven’t addressed why taxpayer dollars, money that comes out of the paychecks of hard working people, should help fund drug addicts who are a major source of crime in this country.

        • rltomkinson

          There are some who claim that the testing will cost a lot more than any money saved.

          http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/20/2758871/floridas-welfare-drug-tests-cost.html

          Apparently it did in Florida. So is your issue saving money or controlling who gets help? This sounds a lot like the Federal Government’s mentality: We will spend a billion dollars to prevent you from stealing $1.

          Some times the benefits are not worth the costs. The party that claims to be all about business should understand Return On Investment (ROI) but too often they show otherwise.

    • YoungConservative

      Maybe kicking junkies off the program will save enough to pay the testing costs, assuming it won’t be frequent testing. Either way I don’t want my tax dollars going to people who put all their money towards drugs. Let them choose, drugs or food.

    • stafford123

      Read the bill. The State has the option to impose testing, and must pick up the full cost. Which means the taxpayers in the State. Thus, the State pays the cost of the testing while the benefit dollars are saved at the federal level. If I am a rational State, I would not impose a cost on myself to realize savings elsewhere.

  • AD_Rtr_OS

    Hey, what about the Members of the Holy Church of Real Men….
    “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner!”

    Damn, I miss Bob Mitchum, John Wayne, and the men like them.

  • Cheryl Jensen Wolff

    why have a “nutritional program” at all After all if people are hungry then they will get a job,even those “poor chrildren” can work ,after all 100 years ago kids 6 and under worked ,are these kids that lazy? Of course rich people know how to work and take nothing from these handouts except for those millions in farm subsidies but they work hard to get them by having to lobby all those other rich guys to support them.Thats very tiresome.Why should felons americans who have been convicted and did their time,why ever should we forgive and help support them.lets not forget 78% of food stamps goes to children,seniors and handicap,58% are working adults ,seniors or old gimme people can get a job,handicap can do something too,stop being such cry babies,go to work at Mcdonalds they generously give discounts on food to their workers ,walmart helps its workers to fill in food stamp forms,there by providing a service to its poor workers to recieve gov aid and then they can pay small change to their employees, Thats Capitalism ,works for those born rich.Whats your problem?

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