Missouri Farm Bureau Says Farm Bill Gives Consumers More Choices

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JEFFERSON CITY - As Congress passed the new federal farm bill Tuesday, the Missouri Farm Bureau said the bill will give consumers more choices in where to buy food. They also said that without the farm bill, food prices were due to increase. 

"It's a food bill, in that it gives food security and a safety net for farmers and ranchers in Missouri," Missouri Farm Bureau's Director of National Legislative Programs Garrett Hawkins said. "And across the country, but it also invests money into consumer choice. It invests in farmer's market programs, it actually expands that program, actually into local food businesses, provides loans to start up businesses in small communities."

Hawkins said the farm bill focuses more on research in specialty crops instead of standard Missouri crops like soybeans. 

"In Missouri, you think of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice in the boot heel, maybe beef, pork, but when you look at some of the most significant investments have been," Hawkins said. "Especially in the last two farm bills, they've been in areas to promote research for specialty crops."

The 5-year bill covers everything from subsidies for farmers, the food stamp program for low income Americans and increased conservation efforts. The biggest change in this year's farm bill will be the transition away from the $4.5 billion a year direct payment program for farmers. The program gave farmers who had a  bad year, a direct payment even if they didn't grow crops.  The new bill focuses more on risk management for farmers with crop insurance.

Opponents of the transition from direct payments say that yields that insurance would pay out on are so low that it would not be worth it even in bad years.

Sponsors of the bill claim it will save taxpayers $23.6 billion in the next 10 years.