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Harvest Public Media
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network. Learn more here.

Years in the Making, New Farm Bill Becomes Law

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Courtesy Stephen Carmody/Michigan Radio
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President Barack Obama signed the new farm bill into law Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, ending years of negotiations and wrangling.

With farm equipment, hay bales and crates of apples setting the stage, the president told the crowd that this farm bill – officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014 – will save taxpayer dollars while also offering support to farmers and ranchers. And he says that helps the whole country.

“What we grow here and what we sell is a huge boost to the entire economy,” Obama said, “but especially to the rural economy.”

The long overdue farm bill replaces the 2008 one, which expired in the fall of 2012 and was extended until Sept. 30, 2013. Among the lawmakers attending the event was Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the U.S. Senate’s agriculture committee.

Stabenow and the three other leaders of the conference committee, which was charged with drafting a compromise farm bill from legislation passed in the U.S. House and Senate, worked for months to find common ground on farm subsidies and nutrition assistance. Obama praised Stabenow for her leadership.

“[Stabenow] really shepherded through this farm bill, which was a very challenging piece of business,” Obama said.

The new farm bill is projected to cost about $100 billion a year for the next five years. The Congressional Budget Office, which calculates its estimates over a 10-year period, suggests the bill will save about $16 billion from previous spending levels.

The budget for the food stamps program, technically called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was one of the major sticking points in the farm bill drafting process. The farm bill passed by the Republican-controlled House included about $40 billion in cuts to SNAP. The Senate-passed version cut $4 billion. The final farm bill compromise cuts about $8 billion, about one percent, from the food stamp budget over 10 years.

On the farm side, the new farm bill strips out controversial direct payment subsidies to farmers and bulks up subsidized crop insurance. It also creates disaster assistance programs for livestock producers and makes changes to the safety net for dairy farmers.

At the signing ceremony, the president mentioned that during his visit to Michigan State he met students who were raising pigs.

“When I was in college I lived in a pig sty,” he said, “but I didn’t work in one, so I was impressed by that.”

At the close of his comments, the President took his place behind a desk on the dais and used several different pens in succession to put his signature down on the long-awaited new package of programs, finally putting an end to a nearly three-year saga.

Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld contributed to this report.