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

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.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. 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'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.