Feb 7 - President Obama signed the $956 billion farm bill into law Friday, comparing the five-year law to ''a Swiss Army knife'' because of the variety of ways it can support jobs. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. President Barack Obama signed the $956 billion farm bill into law on Friday, comparing the five-year law to "a Swiss Army knife" because of the variety of ways it can support jobs in America. "It multi tasks," Obama said, describing how the law supports not only farmers and ranchers but poor families on food stamps, researchers working on biofuels, and businesses developing and exporting new products from rural America. Obama signed the bill - which the Congressional Budget Office says will save $16.6 billion over 10 years compared to current funding - at Michigan State University, the oldest land-grant university in the nation. Using a different measure, lawmakers have estimated the savings at $23 billion. Michigan is the home state of Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who was on hand for the signing along with a small group of Democratic lawmakers and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House invited 50 lawmakers, including Republicans involved in the years-long negotiation process that produced the final bill. But in a sign of ongoing tensions with Obama, no Republican lawmakers attended. The farm bill cut funding for food stamps to the poor by about $8 billion over 10 years, or about 1 percent - a measure decried as too harsh by anti poverty groups and too generous by Republicans, who sought even larger cuts. Some 47.4 million Americans receive food stamps, according to USDA's most recent figures. The CBO's analysis of the farm bill assumes a $90 million reduction in food stamp funding for 2014 - which would amount to about $2 per recipient, if cuts were spread equally - rising to $800 million in 2015. The bill ended nearly $5 billion in annual automatic payments to farmers and landowners, long criticized as a waste of taxpayer money, and consolidated a variety of overlapping conservation programs. The bill also expanded a crop insurance program for farmers and left a host of other farm supports intact. It contained provisions on everything from farmers markets to funding into chronic deer wasting disease.