Bi-Partisan Farm Bill Called a ‘Money-Saving Jobs Bill’

Two years overdue, Congress has released a draft of the new five-year Farm Bill, which the House quickly passed. Traditionally a signal of Congress’ willingness to preserve the status quo, this version includes a few changes in spending priorities.

Ed O’Keefe reports on the details of the soon-to-be-approved federal Farm Bill. The five-year bill, now two years overdue, cuts spending by tackling a few big ticket items: “[the farm bill] slashes about $23 billion in federal spending by ending direct payments to farmers, consolidating dozens of Agriculture Department programs and by cutting about $8 billion in food stamp assistance,” according to O’Keefe.

The bill also cuts direct payments to farmers, which provided a source of bi-partisan agreement: “The agreement cuts about $19 billion in farm programs, including the end of direct payments to farmers -- some of whom weren't actually farming at all. The program has existed since the 1990s and has been singled out by President Obama and members of both parties in recent years as a prime example of government inefficiency.”

Food stamps, which have been in the news a lot lately and were the cause of several misfires in the bill's long road to approval, were also cut to the tune of $8 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Members of Congress are both relieved to be done with the process, promising to pass the bill quickly, and bursting at the opportunity for self-congratulation: “Supporters said the measure will slash billions of dollars and help support 16 million jobs in the agriculture industry -- making it the only bipartisan, money-saving jobs bill to pass Congress in recent years.”

O’Keefe also produced another article digging a little deeper into the bill’s provisions. The editorial board at The New York Times also warns of the so-called King Amendment, which "amounts to a federal fiat that states cannot set mandatory standards on agricultural products that block competition from farmers in other states where standards are looser."

Coverage by the Associated Press following the House's approval of the bill focuses on the subsidies left in place for major crops rather than the $19 billion cut to direct payments.

Full Story: Negotiators unveil new farm bill; vote expected this week

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