Senate approves sweeping Farm Bill, heads to Obamaâ??s desk

Feb 4, 2014 2:54 PM

The Senate has approved a sweeping Farm Bill which cuts funding for food stamps and keeps intact most farm subsidies. President Obama has previously agreed to sign the bill if passed.

The bill was passed by a vote of 68 to 32.

The Farm Bill will cost close to $1 Trillion over the next 10 years, will cut approximately $8 billion from the national Food Stamp Program and ends direct cash subsidies to some farmers but expands aid to community food banks. The bill will also create a new crop insurance program to protect farmers and growers from calamitous losses and expands water and soil cconvservation efforts.

“Today, in a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate came together to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill – legislation that will build on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, create new jobs and opportunities, and protect the most vulnerable Americans,” The White House said in a statement released this afternoon. “This bill provides certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers, and contains a variety of commonsense reforms that my Administration has consistently called for, including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most. It will continue reducing our deficits without gutting the vital assistance programs millions of hardworking Americans count on to help put food on the table for their families.”

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) stated while no legislation is perfect, the farm bill passed by the Senate and previously approved by the House will benefit California with investments in crops, conservation, and research critical for the state’s farmers and rural communities.

“It is shameful that Republicans demanded cuts to nutrition assistance for America’s neediest families, but I applaud Senator Stabenow for working hard to help protect the interests of children and families in this bill.”

Some of the elements of the farm bill most important to California, provided by Sen. Boxer’s Office, include:

Specialty Crops

· Citrus Research: $125 million set aside to stop citrus greening, a top priority for California’s Citrus growers

· Specialty Crop Block Grants: $21 million in fiscal year 2014 ($18.2 million in fiscal year 2013)

· Organic Cost Share: $57.5 million over five years

· Farmers’ Market Promotion Program: $150 million over five years

· Pest and Disease Program: $615 million over ten years


  • Conservation Compliance tied to Crop Insurance

· Environment Quality Incentives Program – Includes $25 million in mandatory funding for California Air Quality

· Includes Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding

  • Pollinator Protector Provisions in EQIP and Technical Assistance


· Organic Research and Extension Initiative - $100 million mandatory funding and $25 million authorized appropriations per year through 2017


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