Two-year-old Farm Bill could soon be reality

January 31, 2014
Roby in the News

After two years of reverting to old policy, it is likely the Farm Bill will pass the United States Senate later this week.

The House of Representatives passed the bill 251-166 on Jan. 28, only a day after it was introduced.

If it passes the Senate, the approximate $1 trillion five-year plan would dictate farm policy and funding through 2018.

Both the House and Senate versions contain changes to farm subsides and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Over the next 10 years, the bill is predicted save nearly $16.6 billion through cuts from food stamp programs and the elimination of direct payments to farmers.

Though the $8 billion in cuts to the food stamp program is less than some republicans had hoped for, the bill was supported across party lines in the House.

Anti-hunger groups are still opposed to the bill’s cuts despite the fact it also included a $200-million increase in financing for U.S. food banks.

The loss of direct payments is something farmers have seen coming for years, but the bill does offer relief through an increase in government-subsidized crop insurance programs.

Those include options that cover 62 percent of the farmers’ premiums.

Rep. Martha Roby has served the last three years on the House Committee on Agriculture.

Though she has moved to the House Appropriations Committee, the local congresswoman served on the conference committee tasked with working through the differences of the House and Senate versions of the bill.

The committee is largely responsible for bi-partisan support the House version saw Tuesday.

“We appreciate the diligence and leadership of (Reps.) Mike Rogers and Roby in securing passage of a Farm Bill,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “As members of the House Agriculture Committee, they have helped develop a Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions of dollars while maintaining a safety net for farmers.”

Several state agriculture leaders are pleased with the House version of the bill, and now the majority of farm groups in U.S. are waiting to see how the bill fairs in the Senate.

It is still unclear if President Barack Obama’s administration will support the changes to the Farm Bill.

In the past the president has opposed any and all cuts to food stamp program, but some analysts believe the bipartisan effort and public interest in passing a workable bill would prevent a veto.

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