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Farm Bill Passage Doesn’t Mean Less Benefits For Hoosiers

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Farm Bill , which cuts SNAP benefits and farm subsidies. But these reductions aren't bad things for Hoosiers.

tractor

Photo: flickr (Alejandro Espinosa)

The farm bill passed today eliminates direct payments to farmers.

After months of stalemate in Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill today, which includes cuts to the food stamp program and farm subsidies.

The 2008 farm bill expired in September, but disagreements over SNAP benefits, previously known as food stamps, kept Congress from approving a new bill. The House originally wanted to cut $40 billion from SNAP, but compromised with the Senate to cut $8 billion.

Emily Weikert Bryant is the Executive Director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, a statewide food bank.  She says the cut to SNAP benefits won’t have a huge impact on Hoosiers.

“The cuts to SNAP benefits were primarily from tightening a program that is often referred to as ‘heat and eat’ that connects SNAP benefits to energy assistance programs,” Weikert Bryant said. “Indiana doesn’t have that program, although there are a number of states that do, and the benefits will be directly cut for people participating in that program.”

The biggest change in agriculture policy is the elimination of direct payments- a system where farmers received subsidies regardless of their crop yield that year. Instead, a revamped crop insurance program will help farmers who experience disappointing harvests.

Because of the new bill’s delay in Congress, farmers were left uncertain to whether they would get their direct payments this year Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist Kyle Cline says  farmers are relieved to finally know how to budget for the year.

“We’re pleased with the outcome and we’re urging our members of Congress to pass that and finally give us the certainty that we have been waiting for so long for,” Cline said.

The vote now goes to the U.S. Senate for final approval.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is an education reporter for StateImpact Indiana. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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  • Helen

    Not everyone is happy with the progress on the farm bill. I would encourage the author to talk with small farmers and/or small farm organizations. The bill drops a provision passed twice by the Senate that would have modestly reduced insurance subsidies to millionaires. Virtually unlimited farm program payments will continue to go to the nation’s largest and wealthiest mega-farms. Those operations will continue to drive up land prices, drive their smaller neighbors out of business, and limit opportunities for beginning and family farmers. Additionally, the bill cuts billions from the very conservation programs that help farmers address production challenges and protect natural resources and the environment.

  • ron

    I agree with Megan who pointed out the small farmer. I grew up in Randolph county where it’s mostly farms. Back when I was in school (80′s and 90′s) there were a lot of small farms. If you go back today those small farms barely exist. You see huge farming operations instead. Way back when you knew or recognized a last name tied to a farm you knew which ones had the million dollar machinery and which ones had the used basic equipment (small farmers). Those small farmers seem to have disappeared or are so scarce you can’t see them. So I think this farm bill is not helping those small farmers but only supporting the millionaire farmer, or so it seems.

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