WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) successfully added an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill on the floor of the U.S. House on Wednesday evening. However, Cárdenas was forced to join a majority of the House, voting no on the Farm Bill, because of devastating cuts to nutrition assistance programs, which threatened to leave millions of Americans hungry, including small children.
“I am pleased my amendment to protect the safety of America’s food supply was unanimously adopted,” said Cárdenas. “We must continue to protect against the contaminants that sicken and sometimes kill Americans every year, and my amendment will help that happen.
“However, this farm bill was fatally flawed. Our nation does not have a budget and is operating under this “stupid” sequestration, so my Republican colleagues have attempted to cut nutrition assistance – food stamps – to a level that leaves far too many Americans starving, while they live in the most prosperous country on Earth. This flaw, these cuts, mean that I could not, in good conscience, vote for the Farm Bill.”
Cárdenas’ amendment, passed unanimously, expands food safety education to include training farmworkers in practices that enhance food safety. When properly trained, farmworkers have the opportunity to prevent the types of bacterial contamination that cause illness or death.
This training is critically important, following outbreaks of salmonella, e.coli and listeriosis in various types of produce. These contaminations have sickened thousands of Americans in recent years.
Unfortunately, the Cárdenas amendment was contained in a five-year Farm bill which cuts $20.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as “food stamps. The bill would result in the loss of SNAP benefits for about 2 million Americans (and eliminate school lunch eligibility for about 210,000 children). Changes in the bill to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would also cut benefits for about 1.7 million Americans.
The bill failed in a vote of the House of Representatives Thursday afternoon.