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July 11, 2013

Houses OKs stripped down farm bill

STILLWATER, Okla. — The House passed a farm bill Thursday.

It was strictly a farm bill. House Republicans stripped funding authorization for food stamps and nutrition programs from the bill. The move angered House Democrats, all of whom voted no. Twelve Republicans voted against the bill, too, but the bill passed 216-208.

The House failed to pass a unified bill in June.

At a Stillwater town hall meeting earlier this month, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said he didn’t like the prospect of removing social nutrition programs and allowing the farm programs to stand alone, but he would do whatever was necessary to protect Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers.

The Oklahoma Republican seemed more positive about the split after Thursday’s vote.

“Today was an important step toward enacting a five-year farm bill this year that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty, provides regulatory relief to small businesses across the country, significantly reduces spending and makes common-sense, market-oriented reforms to agricultural policy,” Lucas said.

The House bill eliminates the long-running practice of making direct payments to farmers regardless of crop yields, market prices or the economy. Instead, producers will participate in crop-insurance programs.

The Senate already has passed a farm bill that includes social nutrition programs. The bills will have to be blended in conference committee.

Lucas said he will work with House and Senate colleagues to put a farm bill on the president’s desk in the coming months.


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