After several years of revisions the Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, is one-third of the way towards being implemented.
The farm bill was passed in the House of Representatives with a 251-166 vote on Wednesday and makes significant changes to farm policy such as repealing or consolidations more than 100 United States Department of Agriculture programs according to Congressman Jeff Denham who served on the House Committee on Agriculture.
“This bipartisan bill saves $23 billion in taxpayer dollars, ends direct payments and provides $800 million for specialty crop and citrus research,” said Denham in a statement released Wednesday. “From my experience as an almond farmer in the Central Valley, I know how crucial farm policy on the federal level is to ensuring that our agricultural community can feed the nation. California is number one in the nation in agricultural revenue and our farms produce nearly half of U.S. grown fruit, nuts and vegetables — making the farm bill especially crucial to Californians.”
The farm bill will consolidate 23 conservation programs into 13; reform farm policy through repealing direct payments; and increases assistance to food banks according to the House-Senate Conference Committee. Another hallmark of the bill is that it reduces misuse of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by ensuring illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased do not receive food stamps. It also disallows SNAP recipients from receiving benefits in multiple states and prohibits the USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment through advertising and foreign governments. These are the first reforms to SNAP to occur since 1996.
“The Agricultural Act contributes major savings to deficit reduction, significant reforms to policy, and yet still provides a safety net not only for the production of American food and fiber, but also to ensure our fellow citizens have enough food to eat,” said Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture in a prepared statement. “I am hopeful this legislation will enjoy the same success when the Senate considers it, and I encourage the president to sign it quickly into law."