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Farm Bill: Sen Johnson votes "no" over food stamp funding; Baldwin votes "yes"

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Wisconsin’s two U-S senators went different ways, when the chamber approved a five-year farm policy package costing a half-trillion-dollars. Democrat Tammy Baldwin joined a 66-to-27 majority which passed a new Farm Bill late yesterday. Republican Ron Johnson voted no, saying the large amount of food stamps in the package was too much to stomach.

The Senate package cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by $400-million a year, or a half-percent. The Republican-controlled House is about to consider a much larger cut of around $2-billion per year – while making it harder for some people to get food stamps. The food aid was added to the Farm Bill several decades ago, to help round up support from urban lawmakers for various farm subsidies. That support has gone sour since the Great Recession, when millions more Americans went on food stamps.

Johnson says food stamps should be debated on their own. As for the other Farm Bill programs, he said a positive risk management effort was off-set by negatives that include a dairy supply management package.

Both the Senate and the House versions would overhaul federal dairy policy by creating a new insurance program for producers, while dropping other dairy subsidies and price supports. A market stabilization program could order cuts in production when high supplies drive down prices.

The dairy package got little debate in the Senate – but the House could be another story. G-O-P Speaker John Boehner says the stabilization program is “Soviet-style,” and he vows to push for an amendment.

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