WOOSTER, Ohio — The president today (Feb. 7) signed the Agriculture Act of 2014 into law — the nation’s new five-year-farm bill — saying it will give farmers and consumers more opportunity, more security and risk management tools.
Early in his speech, Barack Obama compared the farm bill to a Swiss Army knife, due to the many things the farm bill does, including support for farmers, conservation, job growth, local foods and nutrition programing.
“It helps rural communities grow, it gives farmers some certainty (and) it puts into place important reforms,” he said.
The signing ceremony took place at Michigan State University’s Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center.
Note: Farm and Dairy watched the signing via C-SPAN.
The $1 trillion bill reduces spending by about $23 billion, while ending direct payments to farmers and providing farmers new opportunities for crop insurance and disaster relief.
Congress ‘can’ agree
The president said the bill is a “good sign” that Congress can work in a bipartisan way “and actually get stuff done.”
He said he hopes the bipartisanship will continue as Congress considers other parts of his agenda, including raising the minimum wage and immigration reform.
“Let’s keep the momentum going here,” he said.
Obama also praises the success of trade, saying the last five years have seen the “strongest stretch of farm exports in our history.”
Obama reminded the crowd that the farm bill is also about feeding people, especially the needy. About 80 percent of the bill goes toward food stamps and nutrition programing.
This bill cuts about $8 billion in food stamp spending over 10 years, but mostly by reducing loopholes.
Obama said the bill “helps make sure America’s children don’t go hungry. … We sure don’t believe that children should be punished when their parents are having a tough time.”
He also announced a new initiative to help further exports and farm commodity sales, called the Made in Rural America Initiative. And, he mentioned the local foods movement and how the farm bill supports local producers, as well as large-scale farming.
The House passed the bill Jan. 29 by a vote of 251-166. The Senate passed the bill Feb. 4 by a vote of 68-32.