The U.S. Senate on February 4 voted overwhelmingly to approve the bipartisan farm bill by a vote of 68-32. The 2014 farm bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion and represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades, according to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
The farm bill was approved 251-166 by the House on January 29, and now awaits a signature from President Barack Obama. Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on February 7 during a visit to Stabenow's home state, according to an Associated Press report.
"This isn't your father's farm bill. It is a bill for our future that grows our agriculture economy, helps provide greater access to healthy Michigan-grown foods, preserves our land and water, and cuts unnecessary spending. The farm bill is a rare example of a major bipartisan jobs bill and a bipartisan deficit reduction bill," Stabenow said. "We were also able to protect food assistance for families in need of support, while finding savings solely by focusing on fraud and misuse.
"It's been a long road, with many challenges. I'm very proud that we maintained strong bipartisanship throughout this entire process. In the end, Congress came together to support 16 million American jobs, save taxpayers billions and implement the most significant reforms to agriculture programs in decades."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praised the passage of the bill, which he said "will allow the proud men and women who feed millions around the world to invest confidently in the future."
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., added: I am pleased the Senate passed the conference report and put us another step closer to enacting a new farm bill. I commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran on their efforts throughout this process. We worked together to give certainty and sound policy to our agricultural producers; deliver taxpayers billions of dollars in savings; and provide consumers the affordable and reliable food supply they have grown accustomed to."
The 2014 farm bill, named the Agricultural Act of 2014, would replace the most current farm bill, an extension of the 2008 farm bill, which expired in the fall of 2013.