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President Signs the Farm Bill into Law - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

President Signs the Farm Bill into Law

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President Obama traveled to Michigan State University to sign the new farm bill into law on Friday. The President hailed the bill as a symbol of bi-partisan cooperation, which will boost both rural communities and food exports, an industry he says employs one million Americans.

The bill also funds a host of conservation and food production research, which the President saw up close, as he toured a bio-technology research lab.

"Now, despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers," President Obama says. "Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It's like a Swiss Army knife."

The ten year farm bill will cost about $1 trillion dollars, but it cuts direct payments to farmers in lieu of crop insurance subsidies.  It also cuts food assistance by about $8 billion dollars, a program which the President defended as necessary help to struggling families.

"For a lot of families a crisis hits, you lose your job, somebody gets sick, strains on your budget. You have a strong work ethic but it might take you 6 months, 9 months, a year to find a job." the President explains. "And in the meantime you've got families to feed.  That's why for more than half a century this country has helped Americans put food on the table when they hit a rough patch. Or when they're working hard but aren't making enough money to feed their kids. They're not looking for a handout, folks, they're looking for a hand up. A bridge to help them get through some tough times."

Today's ceremony took place at Michigan State's equine research center.

LOCAL REACTION

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called the long-awaited, bipartisan law critical to giving Minnesota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the certainty they need to plan for the future.

"Farmers all across Minnesota told me repeatedly that they not only wanted a five-year Farm Bill, but they needed one," said Sen. Franken. "And now, with the President having signed the bill into law, we're finally giving Minnesota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the certainty they need to plan for the future. With one in five Minnesota jobs connected to agriculture, it's critically important that we finished the job. Getting the Farm Bill done was truly a bipartisan effort."

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a member of the Agriculture Committee and says she worked to shape the bill so that it works for North Dakotans. She said in part:

"Today, we can stand proud, knowing the legislation we wrote to support North Dakota's top economic driver is now the law of the land. I don't plan on kicking my feet and relaxing, though. I have already started to make sure the law is implemented properly and in a way that works for our state.

"Throughout this process we worked together, Republicans and Democrats, to move our country forward. I will continue to take this approach to debates on the many other issues we are facing. That is what North Dakotans want, and that is why I wanted this job."   

Senator John Hoeven is a member of the House/Senate farm bill conference committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee. He said the farm bill provides North Dakota farmers and ranchers with a long-term plan and good options to manage risk with enhanced crop insurance.

"The farm bill that was signed into law today is important not only for our farmers and ranchers, but for every Americans who benefits from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. We worked hard to get a long-term bill that provides our farmers with good options for managing risk with strengthened crop insurance, strong support for our livestock producers, while at the same time saving $23 billion dollars," said Hoeven. "Agriculture supports 16 million jobs across this country and our farmers and ranchers do a tremendous job providing food, fuel and fiber for our nation."

Today Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement after President Barack Obama signed the five-year farm bill:

"The farm bill signed today will provide greater certainty for farmers and lenders, expanded crop insurance choices, and taxpayer savings of nearly 24 billion dollars. Although it is not perfect legislation, it does give agriculture producers more options when choosing a risk management tool to best suit their operation. I will continue to monitor issues like wetland mitigation and conservation compliance to be sure this administration is reasonable in its enforcement."

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