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New Farm Bill

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -Its close to  $1-Trillion and clears the way for farmers in the corridor to begin planning for the future.  The new 5-year Farm Bill is now headed to President Obamas desk after a long battle that ended Tuesday with a vote in the senate.  You might think that much haggling would be plenty of time to reach a friendly compromise, but some lawmakers are still mad.  Iowas senior senator and farmer, Charles Grassley even voted no.  He announced his frustration from the senate floor and chastised his fellow lawmakers for leaving too much pork in the Farm Bill,  If a farms business model depends on lawyers setting up complicated Mickey Mouse legal structures, just to get more government subsidies, perhaps the owners of that entity are in the wrong business.

Despite its massive price tag the bill, composed of many more social programs than agricultural, does boast some big changes.  It cuts more than $8-Billion from the SNAP or food stamp program.  It doesnt kick anyone out of food assistance offerings as some lawmakers first demanded, but the cuts also come at a time when some local food pantries say theyre busier than ever.  The new bill also eliminates guaranteed subsidies to farmers for their crops, but it provides a disaster safety net by beefing up crop insurance for a lower cost.  However, farmers who dont follow strict conservation practices in their fields will receive fewer government benefits.

The Farm Bill also leaves intact requirements to improve food safety by tracking livestock.  A calf born in Canada, fed out in Kansas and processed in Iowa must be labeled as such in your local meat case.  It means cattle, hogs and chickens must be tracked, with the help of producers, from birth to slaughter.

While some who grow our food are less than thrilled, the changes put a smile on the face of Bill Rieckhoff at Morgan Creek Fresh Produce along Highway 30.  The bill says those using the SNAP or food stamp program can double the amount they spend if its on fresh produce at farmers markets.  Rieckhoff says thats good news for everybody, People really need to have good nutrition and I think this is just incentive to do this.. and also this kind of changes the game a little bit.  Theres so much in the Farm Bill that goes to the big corporate farms and this helps the little guy like us, growing fruits and vegetables you know and we get a taste of the big farm bill.

While the debate continues, President Obama says he will sign the new Farm Bill into law.     
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