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Congress Comes to Agreement on Farm Bill

WASHINGTON -- A House plan to make major cuts to food stamps would be scaled back under a bipartisan agreement on a massive farm bill, a near end to a more than two-year fight that has threatened to hurt rural lawmakers in an election year.

WASHINGTON A House plan to make major cuts to food stamps would be scaled back under a bipartisan agreement on a massive farm bill, a near end to a more than two-year fight that has threatened to hurt rural lawmakers in an election year.

The measure announced by the House and Senate Agriculture committees preserves food stamp benefits for most Americans who receive them and continues generous subsidies for farmers. The House could vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday.

The compromise was expected to cut food stamps by about $800 million a year, or around 1 percent. The House in September passed legislation cutting 5 percent from the $80 billion-a-year program; the Democratic-controlled Senatehad passed a bill with $400 million in annual food stamp cuts.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. – chairman of the House Agriculture Committee – said in a statement Monday: “I am proud of our efforts to finish a farm bill conference report with significant savings and reforms. We are putting in place sound policy that is good for farmers, ranchers, consumers, and those who have hit difficult times.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, in the same statement echoed that sentiment: “Today’s bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs,” she said.

“This bill proves that by working across party lines we can reform programs to save taxpayer money while strengthening efforts to grow our economy,” Stabenow continued. “Agriculture is a bright spot in our economy and is helping to drive our recovery. It’s time for Congress to finish this Farm Bill and give the 16 million Americans working in agriculture the certainty they need and deserve.”

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