By: Lauren Fabrizi
After almost two years of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $100 billion-a-year farm bill.
The bill was passed with a vote of 251 to 166. Not all of Nebraska's representatives were in support.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. 01, voted against the bill.
"This Farm Bill missed a key opportunity for significant reform," Fortenberry said. "Responsible payment limits save taxpayer money, prevent fraud and abuse of the system, and level the playing field for smaller farmers. Payment limits reform passed both the House and Senate with significant bipartisan majorities – but the conference committee plowed it under. I could not support today's measure in good conscience."
Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb. 03, voted in favor of the bill.
He spoke on the House floor after it was passed.
"The farm bill does include important reforms, such as eliminating direct payments, and it helps hardworking taxpayers in finding an estimated $23 billion in savings," Smith said. "But it is my hope this body will act quickly to find solutions to the outstanding issues not addressed."
Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb. 02, also voted in favor.
Like Smith, he said the bill isn't perfect, but said he's confident this legislation will serve Nebraska farmers well.
The 5–year bill would protect crop insurance, preserve some subsidies and also remove some.
But the reasons it's been debated for so long has to do with the amount of cuts it will make to the food stamp program.
The compromise would cut food stamps by about $800 million a year, or 1 percent.
For Republicans, that's still too modest. But democrats said it's too steep.
The farm bill will be passed along to the Senate, and could be voted on as early as next week. If approved, the bill would then need a signature from the President.