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Farm Bill Approved, headed to President Obama

(WFRV) - The Senate has approved a nearly $1 trillion farm bill, a sweeping measure that makes some cuts to the food stamps program but keeps subsidies for farmers.

The Senate passed the farm bill in a 68 to 32 vote Tuesday.

The House passed the measure last week, so it will now be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The president released a statement welcoming the Senate's passage of the bill. He said while the bill is not perfect because it is a compromise, it will make a positive difference for the rural economies that grow the country's food and for the nation.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of the bill saying “Our strong agricultural tradition is a driver of economic growth and the Farm Bill is an opportunity to boost our agriculture economy, which puts over 350,000 people in Wisconsin to work. This compromise isn’t perfect but it is bipartisan legislation that makes important investments in our rural communities and will help ensure that our agriculture sector continues to fuel our state’s economy.”

She continues saying "This bipartisan legislation will provide long-term certainty our famers need. Creating jobs by investing in our rural communities, reforming our farm programs so that they work for our family farmers, and putting an end to waste in the system is just commonsense".

Local 5 also received a statement from U.S. Senator Ron Johnson who says “The Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, is deceptively misnamed.  It should be called the Food Stamp Act of 2014, because food stamp spending – or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – makes up 79%, or $756 billion, of its $956 billon 10-year total spending. Like most programs rooted in the New Deal and the Great Society, the food stamp program has experienced exponential growth. In the 1970s, when food stamps and agriculture subsidies became unfortunately linked, only 5 percent of Americans received food benefits. In 2000, approximately 6 percent, or 17 million people, were on food stamps. Participation rates vary based on economic conditions, but over the last two decades, they ranged between 6 and 10 percent of Americans. Today, 15 percent of the U.S. population (nearly 48 million people) are dependent on food stamps — and we are four and a half years into the Obama ‘recovery'."

He goes on to say "The food stamp explosion really began with the 2002 "farm bill," which dramatically expanded benefits and weakened eligibility standards. As a result, the cost of the program doubled between 2001 and 2006. Thanks to President Obama’s stimulus, it doubled once again between 2008 and 2012. It is well past time for Washington to stop blocking needed reforms and long overdue fiscal discipline. Food stamps and farm policy should be addressed in separate bills. As a result, I could not support this bill.”

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