It’s a staggering number: nearly $1 trillion in funding the new five-year farm bill passed through the House of Representatives on Wednesday, by a vote of 251 to 166, after being stalled for more than two years.
It took negotiators from the House and Senate weeks of discussion to come to agreements on “issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers,” reports the New York Times. “The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.”
The vote was “largely bipartisan,” reports the Times. “Many Democrats who had opposed it because of cuts to the food stamp program supported it on Wednesday. A number of Republicans, including many who wanted deeper cuts to the food stamps, also voted for passage.”
The new version of the farm bill includes changes to farm and nutritional programs. “It cuts the food stamp program by $8 billion, and about 850,000 households will lose about $90 in monthly benefits under the change,” notes the Times. Those cuts to food stamps led anti-hunger groups to call the bill “draconian,” and could mean as many as 34 lost meals a month per each affected family reliant on food stamps. “The bill does provide a $200 million increase in financing to food banks, though many said the money might not be enough to offset the expected surge in demand for food,” reports the Times.
Farm programs will see the elimination of direct payment subsidies that amount to close to $5 billion per year. These payments are made whether or not farmers grow crops. “The new bill cuts this subsidy and adds some of the money to the government-subsidized crop insurance,” according to the Times. “The government pays 62 percent of premiums for the $9 billion-a-year insurance program.”
Meat, poultry and seafood industry groups were also upset with the bill. A seafood inspection program that had sparked controversy remained in the bill. And hopes for a delay on country of origin labeling for meat was not included in the bill. The meat and poultry industry says this program will be costly and difficult to manage.
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