Lawmakers reach deal on farm bill

Lawmakers reach deal on farm bill

Amarillo, TX - A congressional committee reached an agreement on the highly debated farm bill Monday and the full House will vote on it Wednesday.

If the bill becomes law, it would change the current agriculture subsidy program and cut about eight billion in food stamp assistance.

For the last two years, area farmers have eagerly waited for a farm bill to be finalized. "A lot of our management decisions are based on the policies at stake in the future," said Randall County Farm Bureau vice president Wade Davis. "So it's very important for us to have something going forward to know what we're going to do in the future."

The bill would end the pay-out of direct subsidies to farmers, which paid farmers whether they had a good crop year or not. An expanded crop insurance program would replace the direct subsidies.

The bill aims to cut about $23 billion in government spending over the next decade, including $8 billion from food stamp assistance, formerly known as the SNAP program. About 850,000 Americans would be affected by the SNAP cuts, but none of them will be Texans.

The cuts would only affect people in 17 states who participate in a utility assistance program not offered in Texas.

"The program is LIHEAP, which gives money for utility assistance, gas, electrical and all those programs," said Broc Carter of the High Plains Food Bank. "It shows as income to people who receive those benefits, which means it looks like they have more income. Then they get less of a SNAP benefit, meaning they'll get less money for their family to provide food."

The High Plains Food Bank said it is not happy about the proposed cuts. "Although they're not in Texas, those cuts are still 850,000 people that will receive less benefits because they take advantage of a program that helps them provide heating to their homes," said Carter.

Those affected would receive $90 less a month in food stamps.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10