With the signature of President Barack Obama, the much-anticipated Farm Bill has been officially signed into law.
While many are calling the bill a “new era of farm and food policy,” the nearly 1,000 page document will see roughly $100 billion in annual spending over the next 10 years.
“This Farm Bill represents the most significant reform to our farm policy in history,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock). “As an almond farmer in the Central Valley, I know firsthand how crucial this bipartisan legislation is in giving certainty to our agricultural industry.”
Serving on the conference committee, Denham says the bill will help save taxpayers $23 billion while eliminating unnecessary and duplicative programs, and ending direct payments.
“It was an honor to ser on the conference committee and lend a Valley perspective to the Farm Bill deliberations,” said Denham. “The Farm Bill that became law today included a huge victory for Californians and for the 10th amendment to the United States Constitution by excluding the King Amendment, which would have imperiled agricultural production laws across the country and threatened the work of California egg producers.”
Although the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, took an $8 billion cut, the reforms will see increased assistance for food banks nationwide. Additionally, the reforms to the program will forbid undocumented immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased from receiving benefits.
While many anti-hunger organizations have criticized the bill’s significant cuts to the food stamp program, others are focusing on the increased benefits that will be provided for farmers and the agricultural industry.
“It’s been a bumpy road for the Farm Bill over the past several years, with many twists and turns, but farmers never gave up nor lost momentum in working toward its passage,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Stallman. “Farm Bureau believes this Farm Bill will give farmers and ranchers a measure of business certainty for this and coming years, allowing them to better manage risk while carrying out the important business of providing food and jobs for America.”
Reforms will see direct payments repealed, while limiting producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses. Additionally, crop insurance will be strengthened, establishing a public/private partnership that ensures farmers invest in their own risk management, and providing a financial cushion for farmers facing unpredictable weather and market conditions. The bill will also provide funds and access to capital for training while supporting small businesses and beginning farmers.
In addition to signing the Farm Bill, with more than 50 lawmakers and 500 attendees, President Obama announced his “Made in Rural America” initiative – a new program aiming to help farmers and rural businesses boost their exports. Bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities, the program will help farmers and those in the agricultural industry reach new customers and markets abroad.