U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that he could not vote for the farm bill this week because of its price tag, even though he supports a portion of the measure dealing with industrial hemp.
In a statement to the Herald-Leader, Paul said he was “encouraged by the provision allowing universities and state agriculture departments to grow or cultivate industrial hemp, but could not support another bill that adds nearly a trillion dollars to our debt.”
“Although there were some improvements to farm policy in the conference report, it did nothing to slow down the spending in Washington,” Paul said.
The sticking point between Republicans and Democrats over the bill was the amount included for food stamps. The ultimate bill, which President Barack Obama praised upon its passage in the Senate, cut about $800 million a year.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted in favor of the bill, came under fire from Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin for doing so.
“Between the federal government’s massive overreach into the free markets and the fact that 80 percent of spending is going to welfare programs, this is a sad excuse for a farm bill,” Bevin said in a statement earlier this week.
Allison Moore, a McConnell spokeswoman, responded that the McConnell campaign doesn’t “expect a New England millionaire to understand Kentucky farm families, but if Bevin ever spoke to our farmers he would understand the importance of this bill to Kentucky agriculture.”
Bevin is from New Hampshire but resides in Louisville.