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Sens. Baldwin, Johnson Split Votes on Farm Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/05/2014

Wisconsin's two U.S. Senators have once again cast their votes in opposite directions Tuesday when their chamber voted in favor of the Agricultural Act of 2014 by a vote of 68-32. Democrat Tammy Baldwin said the new federal farm program will 'provide certainty for Wisconsin farmers' and will support the state's economy, while Republican Ron Johnson said it was too bloated with government spending for him to support.

"Our strong agricultural tradition is a driver of economic growth and the farm bill is an opportunity to boost our agriculture economy, which puts over 350,000 people in Wisconsin to work," said Baldwin. "This compromise isn't perfect but it is bipartisan legislation that makes important investments in our rural communities and will help ensure that our agriculture sector continues to fuel our state's economy."

Johnson's statement wasn't as rosy. He said the bill should probably have been called the 'Food Stamp Act of 2014,' because spending for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program makes up 79-percent of the entire package.

"Like most programs rooted in the New Deal and the Great Society, the food stamp program has experienced exponential growth," Johnson said. "In the 1970s, when food stamps and agriculture subsidies became unfortunately linked, only five percent of Americans received food benefits. Today, 15 percent of the U.S. population are dependent on food stamps--and we are four and a half years into the Obama 'recovery.'"

Some of the elements of the package include investments in research to promote productivity and new agricultural innovations; creates initiatives to help veterans start agriculture businesses; and strengthens rural development initiatives to help rural communities upgrade infrastructure and create a better environment for small businesses.

For dairy farmers, the bill contains a new dairy margin insurance program that will help producers when milk prices drop.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law by the end of the week.

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