U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said in a press release Wednesday he voted for the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
The House-Senate agreement sets national agriculture policy for the next five years, and President Donald Trump will likely sign it, DesJarlais said.
DesJarlais, a House Freedom Caucus member, was an outspoken proponent of changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, which would help more Americans gain job training and employment in an economy where an estimated 6 million job openings outnumber the unemployed.
AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond signaled her appreciation of the act’s passage.
She said, “AARP applauds Congress for passing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. This legislation protects access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We are particularly pleased that the bill rejected harmful changes to the law’s work requirements that would have made it harder for older Americans to access SNAP benefits.”
DesJarlais said, “Especially in Tennessee’s Fourth District, where Rutherford County is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., the economy requires skilled workers to fill good-paying jobs. But able-bodied, working-age adults receiving food stamps, many for long periods of time, are missing opportunities to learn nursing, welding, computer coding and other professions.”
“Unfortunately, Democrats are dead-set against reform, and even some Republicans seem to prefer the failing status quo, despite large majorities of our constituents who favor better training and education for our out-of-work friends and neighbors. But conservatives made progress in this bill, such as better data collection to inform future action. There will be fewer exemptions and waivers allowing states to game the system, and we have eliminated bonuses to states for performing basic administration.”
DesJarlais cited other provisions to improve rural broadband, telemedicine and education.
“A Democrat-controlled Congress next year, if we simply extended the deadline until then, would produce more bloat and bureaucracy,” he said. “Passing this farm bill now gives us the opportunity to make positive changes and prevent big mistakes later on. Tennessee farmers and ranchers also need our help coping with unfair foreign trade practices.”
“They get it in this legislation, and I’m confident we’re headed in the right direction. I look forward to working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue to guide work and training requirements at the departmental level,” he said.