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Congress reaches agreement on a new Farm Bill

28-Jan-2014

Congress has finally reached an agreement on a new Farm Bill.

The five-year  'Agricultural Act of 2014' is designed to "reduce the deficit and help farmers and businesses create jobs in agriculture, while eliminating the direct payment subsidy program, streamlining and consolidating other programs, and cracking down on fraud and misuse", said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said: "The measure will not only save taxpayers approximately $23 billion, it also includes important reforms to both farm and food stamp programs. While I hoped many of these reforms would go further, the status quo is simply unacceptable."

However, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said: "A select few are allowing the farm program to be exploited by putting wealthy, so-called farmers ahead of small- and medium-sized farms and young and beginning farmers. This is an example of why Congress has a 12% approval rating.

“It’s bad for agriculture, it’s bad for taxpayers who are worried about the debt, it’s bad for our credibility with trading partners, and it’s bad for the future of farm programs.”

Dr Nestle: The bill is a mess

Dr Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, was equally unimpressed, asserting that the bill "is a mess—the worst example of the worst of food politics".

She added: "Every clause in those 949 pages exists as the result of special-interest lobbying.  If the bill is ever to pass, everyone has to compromise, but some groups have to compromise more than others. How else to explain the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ statement that the SNAP cuts represent a reasonable compromise ?"

Click here  to read Dr Nestle's initial response to the Bill in her FoodPolitics blog. 

Click here  to read Sen Stabenow's statement and full outline of the Bill, which will be voted on by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and in the Senate early next week.

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