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Senate approves farm bill worth $867 billion

Posted at 5:04 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-11 19:48:04-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressional delegation, and the state’s farmers and ranchers, are celebrating this evening, after the US Senate gives approval to a new Farm Bill worth more than $860 billion.

Different versions of the bill have been under debate for weeks. But when it came time for a vote on Tuesday, Senators passed the package on a sweeping 87-to-13 vote.

Pressure to pass the bill has been building as farmers and ranchers worry about the impacts of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on certain commodities which have caused a slide in some prices over the past few months.

In addition to a new package of farm subsidies, the bill provides money for farmers’ markets and local food co-ops, and legalizes hemp. It doesn’t include cuts to food stamp (SNAP) programs, although it does make some revisions aimed at stopping abuse of the program.

The Montana Farm Bureau calls the bill “great for Montana’s farmers and ranchers, as well as for consumers”.

Senator Jon Tester says the Farm Bill provides “certainty” for producers, while protecting “conservation tools” and ensuring access to “quality food” for hungry Montanans.

U.S. Capitol Building
(CNN photo)

“It provides the kind of certainty producers can take to the bank, while protecting successful conservation tools and ensuring every hungry Montanan has access to quality food,” Tester said.

Senator Steve Daines, who serves on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, notes the bill also includes money to boost rural internet access in Montana and funding for land grant universities like Montana State University and farm research stations.

The bill is headed to the House, where it’s expected to pass.