5 Things to Know About the Farm Bill

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Photo courtesy of http://www.foodandwatch.org

Don’t let the name fool you, the much talked about farm bill will impact you whether you live on a farm or not.

On Tuesday evening, the Senate passed a $1 trillion farm bill that’s been debated on for over three years. The bill includes cuts to the food stamp program, expanded crop insurance, and has $956 billion in tax dollars over the next decade.

The bill will be sent to President Obama where he is expected to sign it on Friday during a visit to East Lansing, Michigan.

But what’s included in the bill, and how it affects you, is most important.

Here are five things you should know about the farm bill, or more importantly, the food bill.

1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Cut by $8 Billion – One of the more controversial portions of the bill includes cuts to the food stamp program. Language in the farm bill states that about 1.7 million Americans will feel the impact of the cut.

Additionally, these cuts will be spread out over 10 years, so while the number may seem small, many low-income Americans will take a hit.

2. A New Crackdown on Food Stamp Fraud – Many on the left and right have chided those who abuse the food stamp program. In an effort to regulate the federal program, the Agriculture Department will have the ability to track so-called SNAP trafficking and stamp out fraud by businesses who sell food stamps.

But fraud sounds sexier when salacious activity is involved. No longer will lottery winners, convicted murderers or sex offenders have the ability to receive SNAP benefits.

3. Most Dollars From the Farm Bill Will be Spent on SNAP Benefits – The yearly cost of the farm bill is about $100 billion, and the federal government spends about $80 billion on food stamps.

The cuts will hurt many poor and working class Americans, but the government is still spending a grand amount of money to aid Americans who need food assistance.

4. The new farm bill has almost $600 million to be spent on crop insurance – This type of insurance shields farmers if a major loss happens to their property.

The major change in this insurance policy is that farmers will no longer receive direct payments. Formerly, farmers would receive money from the federal government whether they farmed or not. The new policy states that farmers may only collect if there is a loss.

5. While the Food Stamp Program Was Cut, the Crop Insurance Program Was Not – According to the New York Times, the 18 companies who pay 62 percent of farmers’ premiums will not receive a hit.

These companies are paid almost $1.5 billion each year and will still receive every penny. The bill also forbids the Agriculture Department from “renegotiating lesser payments to those companies over the five-year life of the bill.”

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