Years of debate over a new farm bill is just about over, as the Senate passed a five-year farm bill Tuesday. The House last week approved the bill with a vote of 251-166 Jan. 29.
Years of debate over a new farm bill is just about over, as the Senate passed a five-year farm bill Tuesday.
The House last week approved the bill with a vote of 251-166 Jan. 29.
The bill, which was a bi-partisan compromise to say the least, will now be sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. The White House said the president will sign the bill Friday at Michigan State University.
For the last several months, details of the bill have been debated in a House-Senate committee.
According to a recent report from The Associated Press, the legislation "preserves generous crop subsidies" and makes more modest cuts to the food stamp program than Conservatives were asking.
According to the AP report, the bill will ultimately cut about 1 percent from the food stamp program, or $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program.
During last year's farm bill debate, the House's $4 billion in cuts per year was contending with the Senate's $400 million in cuts per year, which added to the impasse that lasted well past the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline.
The expiration of the farm bill extension, which was passed in January 2013, caused a number of farm programs to revert to permanent law — rate structures set in the 1940s. At the 11th hour — with dairy supports expiring — milk prices are dangerously close to going through the roof.
The White House has confirmed that the president will sign the bill, bringing those fears to an end.
Missouri Congressman Jason Smith (R-8), who along with fellow Republican legislators was hoping for deeper cuts to the food stamp program, was pleased with the overall result.
"This Farm Bill saves taxpayers $23 billion in mandatory federal spending by reforming outdated agriculture and food stamp programs. This legislation makes the first reforms to food stamps since 1996 and consolidates or repeals nearly 100 programs from the Department of Agriculture," said Smith, who further commended the legislation as it ends "direct payments to farmers and replaces them with crop insurance."
"Agriculture is the backbone of Missouri's Eighth Congressional District. This farm bill is not perfect. I would have much preferred additional savings and reforms in a new farm bill," Smith said. "However, this legislation will give producers in Missouri and across the country the certainty they need to continue producing the safest, most affordable and most reliable source of nutrition on the planet."
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said in a statement that she hopes this bi-partisan compromise is the first of many.
"This bipartisan legislation will provide needed resources for Missouri's farmers and ranchers and will boost jobs and businesses across my state..." McCaskill said. "Missouri's farmers and ranchers, and our rural communities have paid the price for that dysfunction. We need to do better."
Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said in a press release that he is pleased with the result.
"It's been a very long and torturous road, but final passage by both houses will allow the bill to be sent to the president's desk," he said. "We hope that he signs it very quickly.
"Final passage of the bill, with the president's signature, gives Missouri farmers some certainty that they have not had for the two years that the debate has been going on. We commend Congress for their action and look forward to President Obama's signature on the bill."