House Passes Farm Bill, Crop Subsidies Preserved

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has passed an almost $100 billion-a-year, compromise farm bill that would make small cuts to food stamps and continue generous subsidies for the nation's farmers.

The vote was 251-166. The five-year bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to send it to the president's desk.

The measure had solid backing from the House GOP leadership, even though it makes smaller cuts to food stamps than they would have liked. The bill would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year program, or around 1 percent. The House had sought a 5 percent cut.

SNAP funding for Nebraska will remain in the budget. About 176,000 Nebraskans (most of them elderly people or families with children) receive food assistance from SNAP each year.

The legislation would continue to heavily subsidize major crops while eliminating some subsidies and shifting them toward more politically defensible insurance programs.

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry commented on the passage of H.R. 2642, the Farm Bill Conference Report. He voted against the measure.

In a statement Rep. Fortenberry said, “I have worked for years to help develop a responsible Farm Bill that provides certainty to producers, and I voted for the earlier versions. Today’s measure includes some important reforms, such as ending the practice of direct payments, strengthening risk management tools for farmers, requiring sound conservation plans, and providing a long-term solution to help mid-size rural communities address severe housing challenges.

He added, “However, this Farm Bill missed a key opportunity for significant reform. Responsible payment limits save taxpayer money, prevent fraud and abuse of the system, and level the playing field for smaller farmers. Payment limits reform passed both the House and Senate with significant bipartisan majorities – but the conference committee plowed it under. I could not support today’s measure in good conscience.”