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February 5, 2014

Senate sends farm bill to president

WASHINGTON — The sweeping farm bill that Congress sent to President Obama Tuesday has something for almost everyone, from the nation’s 47 million food stamp recipients to Southern peanut growers, Midwest corn farmers and the maple syrup industry in the Northeast.

After years of setbacks, the Senate on Tuesday sent the nearly $100 billion-a-year measure to President Barack Obama. The White House said the president will sign the bill Friday in Michigan, the home state of Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.

The Senate passed the bill 68-32 after House passage last week. The bill provides a financial cushion for farmers who face unpredictable weather and market conditions. It also provides subsidies for rural communities and environmentally-sensitive land. But the bulk of its cost is for the food stamp program, which aids 1 in 7 Americans. The bill would cut food stamps by $800 million a year.

House Republicans had hoped to reduce the bill’s costs even further. The House passed a bill in September that would have made a cut to food stamps that was five times more than the eventual cut.

Those partisan disagreements stalled the bill for more than two years, but conservatives were eventually outnumbered as the Senate, the White House and a bipartisan coalition of farm-state lawmakers pushed to get the bill done.

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