President Obama to sign Farm Bill today, SNAP cuts remain intact

The White House has scheduled a media event that will cover President Obama signing the “Bipartisan Agriculture Act of 2014”.

The $8 Billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps to provide the poor, working poor and children with food will remain intact representing further cuts to the social safety net millions of families depend on in a time of high unemployment and under-employment. Last year in a 2013 report, UNICEF ranked the United States second among the worst developed countries that have high child poverty rates.

However, financial safety nets remain intact for family farms and cattle ranchers who lost cattle due to storms. Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union had this to say about the program, “After a long journey, family farmers and ranchers now have the certainty of a strong farm program with a safety net in place. From my perspective, we did very well with this farm bill. What we need to do now is make sure farmers are educated on the options they have so they can be ready when the time comes to sign up. We were a little disappointed that they added cross compliance for conservation with crop insurance subsidies. Overall, this is a really good program.”

Other key points contained within the legislation as reported by The Dickson Press are:

*The legislation ends a nearly two-decade-old program of direct payments to farmers, which cost about $5 billion a year and went to farmers and landowners no matter how much money they made or even whether they actually farmed their land.

*Country of origin labeling This provision, which has been around since the 2002 farm bill, requires meat sold in the United States to be labeled as to where animals are born, grown and processed.

*There was a battle between Democratic Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, backed by dairy farmers, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner over Peterson’s proposal to couple a new margin insurance program with a system to cut milk production if prices fell below a certain level.

*Rural counties in the West breathed a sigh of relief after the farm bill included a payment in lieu of taxes program (PILT), which pays local governments for the tax revenue they cannot collect on federal lands.

*U.S. catfish farmers and Southern lawmakers successfully fought to a keep a provision, first authorized in the 2008 farm bill, that shifted catfish inspection to the Agriculture Department from the Food and Drug Administration.

*With marijuana laws loosening, supporters of industrial hemp saw an opening and pushed through a provision that allows colleges and state agencies to grow and conduct research on the crop in the nine states where it is legal.

*A provision removes subsidies for fuel pumps in rural areas that blend gasoline with higher concentrations of biofuels, like corn-based ethanol.

*Fiscal conservatives are particularly incensed by a provision in the bill that imposes a 15-cent fee on every fresh-cut Christmas tree sold in the United States, with the money being used to promote demand for trees.

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