Idaho Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson voted "yes" this morning, joining 249 of their U.S. House colleagues to pass a five-year, $500 billion farm bill, following nearly two years of debate.
The measure is expected to pass through the U.S. Senate as well, before heading to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The wide-ranging legislation affects about 16 million jobs in the country's agricultural sector and can have an impact on the business landscape for major agricultural companies.
But a number of Democratic lawmakers are opposing the new bill and its massive cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as Food Stamps. The new farm bill cuts approximately $8.6 billion over the next decade from Food Stamp spending by making changes to a heating assistance program used by some states to determine if an individual qualifies for the SNAP program. The House had been looking for nearly $40 billion in Food Stamp reductions while the Democratic-controlled Senate targeted $4.5 billion in cuts.
"I know many of my colleagues would just like this whole farm bill issue to go away. They want to pass a bill and forget about it and move on to something else, but ... the people that will be hurt by this bill aren't going away," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D.-Mass., who voted against the legislation. "This bill will make hunger worse in America, not better."
The last farm bill, which passed in 2008, expired in September after being extended for one year while negotiators ironed out differences between measures approved in the House and Senate.