Farm Bill Finally Approved by Congress After Three Years; It’s About Darn Time

Ever since this site launched two years ago, we’ve covered the slow, molasses-like crawl of the Farm Bill’s renewal through Congress. The bill, which would establish the Department of Agriculture’s budget for the next five years, was the subject of intense partisan bickering, particularly over programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school lunches, and farm subsidies — and thank the corn lord above, the House and Senate have approved the bill and sent it to President Barack Obama’s desk today.

So what’s changed, and how will it affect the American people?  Here’s how the New York Times breaks it down:

Fewer farm subsidies: Instead of directly receiving subsidies from the government no matter how much they grow, farmers will get to participate in a crop insurance program, which only kicks in if farmers actually suffer crop losses from disasters. (Watchdog groups, however, call this cut pointless, saying that Congress “replaced one subsidy with an even more generous one.”)

Food stamps get cut: Though not by a lot. SNAP’s only getting $8 billion in cuts, which is a pittance compared to the $45 billion in cuts the House Republicans initially demanded, but still enough to eliminate 34 meals per month in SNAP-dependent households.

Food inspection is still contentious, at least to industry: Representatives from the meat and poultry industries aren’t pleased with a new clause requiring them to label their product’s country of origin (no more Horseburger).

Though it passed through Congress with very little contention, the $956.4 billion omnibus bill was the source of endless infighting — so much so that the deadline of the previous version of the Farm Bill had to be extended for two years.

And now, after over two years of dealing with this story, this is us:

[The New York Times]

Congress Reportedly Close to Farm Bill Agreement; SNAP and Cheesemakers Screwed
WATCH: Welfare Bear Tom Colicchio Blasts Congressional Failure to Secure Food Stamp Funding
LIST: Here’s What Happens to Your Food When the Government Shuts Down

  • tctw

    Tina Nguyen wrote: “still enough to eliminate 34 meals per month in SNAP-dependent households.”

    More Tina Nguyen obfuscation and lazy reporting on the cuts to SNAP.

    There are approximately 50 million people using SNAP.

    Feeding America claims that 850,000 households will lose the said 34 meals ($90) a month. So it is only about 4 million people out of 50 million people on SNAP who will be affected, but again, Tina Nguyen doesn’t really tell you that.

    Tina Nguyen’s comment makes it seem like it will affect everyone on SNAP. Not only that, the households affected are those in states that exploit the “Heat and Eat” loophole that allows SNAP recipients in 15 states plus the District of Columbia to receive more SNAP benefits while low income people in other states in the same situation receive less. The removal of the loophole is just making the distribution of benefits equitable for all SNAP recipients.

    The $8 billion in cuts to the SNAP program also comes from getting rid of other loopholes such as allowing wealthy college students to receive SNAP benefits.

    The $8 billion in cuts is only 1% of the entire SNAP budget, and amounts to less than $1 billion a year in cuts. There is over $10 billion a year in discretionary spending in the 2014 Farm Bill which allows President Obama’s administration to use that $10 billion a year in any way they see fit without congressional approval. If President Obama’s administration thought the cuts to SNAP were draconian, they could easily make up the difference through discretionary spending.

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