Status of 2014 Farm Bill: Deal made and now ready for vote
Ivan C. Potter, Publisher West Kentucky Journal
February 4, 2014 - The Farm Bill passed the US Senate at 2:01 CDT - 68 ayes, including Sen. Mitch McConnell and 32 nays including Sen. Rand Paul.
(Clinton, Ky. January 29, 2014) - A working series of compromises late last week has now been woven into a new Agricultural Act for 2014. A full congressional vote on the bill could occur within the next two weeks. Known as the Farm Bill, this vote will give a new 5 year life as the farm law of the land. About $950 billion dollars will be earmarked for public expenditure over this time period. The details of the expenditure are listed within the 956 pages of the bill.
Every state in America will be impacted by the Farm Bill. Crops of the North will face off with crops of the South over legal protection and subsidies. For example, the Bill establishes a new crop insurance program for New York apple growers and upstate dairy farmers. A new section of specialty fruits and vegetables will be added. Other specialty crops will include Christmas trees, nuts and maple syrup.
Why is the Farm Bill so important to America? It ranks up with defense, education, and health spending because its’ programs touch the urban poor, rural poor, food outlets across America, small town Main Streets, farmers, land owners and chemical and agricultural suppliers. The Bill defines how American food is grown, processed, shipped, and consumed.
Like defense spending and education programs, there are big winners and big losers in the Farm Bill. Some of the more important changes in the 2014 Farm Bill compared to the existing Farm Bill are discussed below:
Food Stamps and Nutrition
The bipartisan Farm Bill hits food subsidies, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) hard. A compromise cut of $ 8 billion dollars will reshape SNAP.
Under the new law:
Program direct payment to farmers for crops will be cut out. A total of $19 billion dollars will be cut from the 2014 Farm Bill. Protection for farmers of rice, peanuts, corn, wheat, soybean, dairy and cotton from major swings in markets and prices will end.
Seven billion dollars will be available to farmers for disaster relief to help cover crop losses. This was one of the most brokered sections. With cuts to direct payments to farmers for growing crops, additional aid for crop insurance became the compromise.