Farm Bill Clears Hurdle-Some Farmers Are Skeptical

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 01/28 2014 06:19PM

Updated 01/28 2014 06:25PM

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt.-  The Farm Bill cleared its first hurdle after being on hold as lawmakers in Washington D.C. debated it.
“Finally Monday morning we won,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.
Now the bill heads to the House after passing committee; nearly a month after the yearlong extension expired.
Senator Leahy says part of the negotiations include a compromise to protect Vermont’s small dairy farmers.
“I'm hoping this new version will be better for the smaller farmers sometimes they ignore us,” said David Aimsworth, a Vermont dairy farmer.
The revised bill includes a new Dairy Margin Protection Program that would lower premium rates for smaller farms and raise rates for the country's largest dairy farms.
“So it would be different for the small farm versus the bigger farms that would probably be quite a lot of help,” said Aimsworth.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Stamps - narrowly avoided deep cuts.
Another new addition is the Dairy Product Donation Program in which farmers could donate products to be distributed by the federal government, to food banks.
And the Organic Certification Cost Share Program would provide organic farmers with 75 percent or up to 750 dollars toward the cost of their organic certification.
These are just a few pieces of the Farm Bill but Senator Leahy says he realizes not all farmers might be happy with the changes.
“It’s not everything they would have liked but it’s a lot better then what we've had,” said Senator Leahy.
But some farmers are skeptical as they say some details of the bill are still unclear.
“I wish they would stay out of it more than they are. I think when the government gets involved they sometimes do more damage than good,” said Ted Keith, a Vermont dairy farmer.
“They say it’s going to benefit small farmers but until I see it I don’t know. I'm skeptical,” said Douglas Giles a Vermont dairy farmer.

Senator Leahy says the final bill will go to the House for a vote -- as early as Wednesday.
Then it's expected to head to the Senate for a vote later this week.

For more information on the Farm Bill visit Senator Leahy's website by clicking here.

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