Lawmakers push for Farm Bill passage - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Lawmakers push for Farm Bill passage

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(07/18/12) - Congress is a step closer to cementing the nation's agriculture policies for the next five years. The House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the Farm Bill last week with bipartisan support.  Now, Michigan leaders are pushing for final passage. 
"It's absolutely critical that the House moves forward," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Stabenow oversaw the markup of the Senate's version of the Farm Bill, which passed with bipartisan support in June. The Senate bill cuts spending by $23 billion, eliminates direct payments to farmers for crops they're not growing, and strengthens crop insurance.
"We need to make sure no farmer loses his farm because of a few days of bad weather, but when things are going well, taxpayers shouldn't be making a payment," Stabenow said.
Meanwhile, the House's bill cuts spending even more – $35 billion. And almost half of that are cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.
"We eliminated some of the areas of abuse and misuse," explains Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, who serves on the House Ag Committee.  "Anyone who's truly in need of food stamps will get it."
"The House bill actually hurts people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves needing assistance," Stabenow said. "There are some differences that are significant. But we can work those out in a final negotiation in a conference committee."
Thompson hopes the House will vote on its version of the Farm Bill in the next few weeks before Congress leaves for August recess. Then, both sides could work on final passage in September, as the current Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept. 30.
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