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President signs ag bill

Extra funding in the bill will support ag research, make cuts to food stamps program

staff writer

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02

caine dairy

Kylie Haslam photo

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that increases subsidies for agriculture on Feb. 7 at Michigan State University.

The bill has a proposed budget of approximately of $1 trillion. It also cuts spending in the Food Stamp program by $8.7 billion. Part of the funding will go to land grant institutions, such as USU.

“This funding supports research, teaching and outreach, which in turn supports students, especially those working on funded projects,” said Kynda Curtis, associate professor of applied economics.

According to Title VII of the bill, there will be several funding opportunities for research and development in agricultural fields. The bill authorizes a new and competitive grants program for animal health and disease research. It also includes a mandatory $100 million in organic agriculture research and $400 million in specialty crop research.

In addition to increased research funding, the bill will provide funding for farmers. The bill expands crop insurance for farmers by $7 billion over the next decade. Also, subsidies were created for when prices drop for crops such as rice, soybeans and peanuts.

The exact changes that will impact Cache County’s agricultural businesses will be made clear within the upcoming week, said Bruce Lundquist, local manager of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The bill first passed through the House of Representatives on Jan. 29 with a vote of 251-166. The vote amongst Utah representatives was 3-1. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah’s 1st District — the district Logan is in — voted yes.

A preliminary vote was held in the Senate on Feb. 3 after a failed filibuster attempt. The final vote was held Feb. 4 and passed with a vote of 68-32. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted yes, while Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted no.

“The farm bill Congress just passed Tuesday is a monument to Washington dysfunction, and an insult to taxpayers, consumers and citizens,” Lee said in a statement on Feb. 5 called “The Farm Bill vs. America.”

Many proponents of the bill applauded its bipartisan effort. In his statement, Lee agreed it was a combined effort, but one that was formed to benefit special interest groups and to hurt the American people.

Lee is not alone in his misgivings on the bill. Those who voted nay were from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

One of the main points of discord was in regard to the changes made to the food stamp program. Some called for more varied changes. Others were against the $8.7 billion that will now be cut from the program.

According to Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger, the food stamp program in Utah will see very little change. Most citizens using the program will have no interruption in their service.

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