On a vote of 251-166, the U.S. House on Wednesday approved a nearly $100 billion-a-year compromise farm bill.
Among those voting in favor of the bill was Congressman Sam Graves.
“This farm bill contains some of the most meaningful reforms to both the farm and nutrition programs that we’ve seen in years,” said Graves in a media release. “The fact of the matter is, we end direct payments and strengthen the risk management and crop insurance programs, all while saving taxpayer dollars and repealing unnecessary initiatives. Additionally, we make reforms to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that root out fraud without removing those who need assistance from the program. This bill was thoroughly vetted by the two Agriculture committees over the course of several months, and is a positive development that provides certainty to farmers, ranchers and producers for the coming years.”
According to Graves, the farm bill consolidates or repeals over 100 programs, representing a savings of $16.6 billion.
The bill contains language authored by Graves from his SNAP Fraud Prevention Act. Under the new guidelines, food stamp beneficiaries would be prevented from purchasing items that require a substantial deposit with their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card unless they pay for the deposit by other means. Graves says he drafted the bill in light of concerns brought to his attention by a grocer in North Missouri who noticed food beneficiaries purchasing large glass bottles of organic milk and immediately dumping the contents in the parking lot, only to return the glass bottle to the store to claim a $5 cash deposit.
The bill ultimately would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, or around 1 percent. The House had sought a 5 percent cut.
The legislation would continue to heavily subsidize major crops for the nation's farmers while eliminating some subsidies and shifting them toward more politically defensible insurance programs.
Graves reports the farm bill increases funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program by $205 million. The additional money will benefit Missouri food banks such as the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia.
The five-year bill heads to the Senate, where approval seems certain. The White House said President Barack Obama would sign it.