Grimes slams McConnell on Farm Bill, no comment on key sticking point


by Joe Arnold

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 2:05 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 6 at 2:11 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — Saying Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's failure to deliver on a Farm Bill promise is "shameful," Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Thursday said she would be a strong voice for the farming community if elected to the U.S. Senate.

“Kentuckians are tired of a chatterbox they want someone who is a champion,” Grimes said. 

The first-term Kentucky Secretary of State spoke to reporters after addressing the United Steelworkers at the Holiday Inn-Hurstbourne.

Echoing a web video released by her campaign Thursday morning, Grimes said McConnell had "left Kentucky farmers in the lurch" with no new farm bill three months after McConnell assured that one was on the way.

Crop insurance and other critical agriculture planning relies on the five year bill, but the last one expired in October of this year. 

The video uses portions of McConnell's comments to the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast during the Kentucky State Fair.

“Here in the state of Kentucky it's shameful,” Grimes said. “Our Senior Senator actually voted against the farm bill. As it came out of the Senate, he voted against it. It was a bipartisan measure, 66 votes coming out of the Senate.”

While Grimes was attacking McConnell for gridlock in the capital, she declined to say how she would vote on a key part of a new farm bill.

A major sticking point in the Farm Bill is Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP (food stamps) funding, which temporarily increased with President Obama's stimulus in 2009.

With the Democratic-majority Senate wanting to cut food stamp funding by about $4 billion over 10 years and the Republican-led House wanting to cut about $40 billion, Grimes declined to say how much she thinks should be cut from the program, when asked by WHAS11.

“There are ongoing negotiations right now and I'm not going to comment on those negotiations,” Grimes said. “My hope and my plea and my call is for Congress to pass a farm bill.”

Grimes was also asked whether SNAP should even be a part of the Farm Bill. 

“There's debate right now amongst many," Grimes responded.  "It is my hope that we can have the comprehensive negotiations that are going on come to fruition that have a comprehensive bill that include that funding,” Grimes said.