House Passes Farm Bill - On to the Senate For Approval

(PARKER, SD) It's been 2 years in the making but finally passing a new 5-year farm bill is inching closer to becoming a reality.

The House Passed a compromise bill today that contains about $500 billion in funding. Almost 80% of the bill goes to the SNAP Program or food stamps and nutrition the other 20% is split up into different agriculture related programs.

For cattlemen and farmers like Walt Bones, the former Secretary of Agriculture for South Dakota, the farm bill is a pretty big deal.

Without it, if his farm were to experience any type of natural disaster like extreme heat or cold he could lose his corn or soybean crop or some head of cattle and be left with no back-up plan.

Which is why Bones was excited to hear a compromise bill passed in the House Wednesday.

"It's probably a fair farm bill if I could put it that way," said Bones.

Fair, because he says Democrats and Republicans had to meet in the middle and when you SNAP and $14 billion cut from Farm Subsidies and Commodity programs.

The new farm bill also eliminates direct payments to farmers, using crop insurance instead. A move Bones says makes sense.

"A direct payment -- I really had a problem with it and I think consumers and our citizens and taxpayers also had a problem with it because it was a payment given to a farmer regardless of the conditions, the crop prices, anything like that," said Bones.

Crop insurance works much like regular insurance. The more you spend on it the more it pays out if extreme weather like the drought of 2012 for example wipes out your crop.

But being that Bones is also a cattleman, he likes that the bill strengthened the Livestock Disaster Program by raising the cap of reimbursement money to $125 thousand for a single producer or $250,000 for a married couple.

"You've heard stories of some ranchers losing you know, 200, 300, 400 head of cows. Those cows are valued at probably $2,000 to $2,500 a head each. To those folks it's just something that will help them restart," said Bones.

He says it will also help the younger generation who may not have the network or equity more experienced cattle producers have.

One other note on the bill Country of Origin Labeling or the COOL program would require meat packers to label where animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

Bones says he isn't a fan of that because it would cost producers a lot of money. And he says it provides little benefit to consumers because most of the meat we eat here is raised here.