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Farm Bill Passage Doesn’t Mean Less Benefits For Hoosiers

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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.

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