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Senate Approves Farm Bill

President Obama is expected to sign into law a deal which will cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
After three years of stalled negotiations, the farm bill is now in the hands of President Obama.  On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill with strong bipartisan support.  It reauthorizes hundreds of programs targeting agriculture, dairy, nutrition, research and conservation.  It will cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

Paul Betancourt of kerman grows almonds, oats, wheat and cotton.  He was pleasantly surprised to see a farm bill deal get done.

"It acknowledges California for the first time," said Paul Betancourt, a grower in Kerman.

The farm bill pushes to increase our exports and places a big investment into the valley's diverse specialty crops.

"Which are fruits and vegetables.  We produce half the nation's supply, so there's over $800 million for an initiative to encourage new technologies to improve efficiencies and production," said Congressman Jim Costa, (D) Fresno.

"We've been strong supporters of research and marketing programs, so we're glad to see that pass," said Betancourt.

California's dairies will now be on an even playing field with milk producers in other states, which delights Tulare County Congressman David Valadao.

"People producing milk outside of California were getting $1 to $2 more per 100 lbs. of milk.  We've always been behind the ball and been suffering because of it and it's something that needed to change," said Congressman David Valadao, (R) Hanford.

Millions will go to research teams who aim to fight pests like the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which has made its way to the South Valley.

Meanwhile, the food stamps program has been reformed to close a loophole some recipients have taken advantage of.

"We're just going to tighten up some of the rules and make sure those who are taking advantage of the generosity of taxpayers won't continue to do so.  Those who really need it will continue to get the resources they need," said Rep. Valadao.

The government is pulling its safety net away from growers by eliminating farm subsidies, instead opting to expand the crop insurance program.  An extra expense Betancourt wishes was optional rather than a requirement.

"How does insurance help rural communities?  It helps insurance companies, but I don't know how it helps Kerman," said Betancourt.

President Obama is expected to sign the farm bill into law on Friday.
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