The negotiations over the Farm Bill could be at an end, as late yesterday House and Senate committees reached a bipartisan agreement on the Farm Bill that has been delayed for more than a year.
The bill, which still needs to be approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before going to President Obama’s desk, has compromises throughout, including changes made to SNAP, the dairy program, farm subsidies and more.
The bill cuts food stamps by about 1 percent or about $800 million per year, according to Reuters. The cuts are much lower than the House’s proposed cuts, which were about 5 percent, but hunger organizations aren’t happy about the cuts either.
A New York Times report quotes New York Coalition Against Hunger Executive Director Joel Berg as saying, “They are gutting a program to provide food for hungry people to pay for corporate welfare.” Berg added that those who voted for this bill “should be ashamed.”
According to the report, the cuts would reduce benefits by about $90 a month for 850,000 households.
The “corporate welfare” Berg refers to is crop subsidies. Among the subsidies, so-called “direct payments,” which cost about $5 billion a year, have been eliminated in the new bill, though some of those savings have been added to the crop insurance program. The crop insurance program helps farmers in cases of poor yields or declines in revenue.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) released a statement praising the bill’s treatment of the dairy industry.
“The agreement establishes a new margin insurance program for dairy farmers,” the statement reads, “…and rejects the effort to have our government limit milk supplies. This is a major step toward moving our dairy industry away from the failed agriculture policies of the past and toward policies of the future that will enable our entire industry to grow and capture new markets.”
According to IDFA, the compromise is good news for consumers “who will not be forced to pay unnecessarily higher prices,” as well as producers, since quotas have been eliminated.
The sugar program is expected to be untouched, along with the hotly debated Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules, which mandate that meat sold must include where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
In the feature photo at top is a scene from the Isaac Tate Farm in Kentucky.