New Farm Bill could benefit Georgia peanut farmers
by Associated Press Wire
June 03, 2013 01:00 PM | 352 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia peanut farmers would get a better deal this year under Congress' proposed Farm Bill, but some residents could be removed from food stamp rolls.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are seeking to remake the federal farm subsidy program and scale back nutrition programs.

The U.S. Senate could pass its bill this week, and the House will follow with its version soon, though passage there is far from certain, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Farm and nutrition programs expired at the end of 2012 and are running on a temporary extension until a new five-year law is approved.

Both versions of this year's bill seek to end direct cash payments to farmers, swapping in new crop insurance programs.

Last year, new crop insurance proposals in the Senate pitted Southern rice and peanut farm interests against Midwestern ones.

This year, the leadership balance shifted on the Agriculture Committee, with Mississippi's Thad Cochran replacing Kansas' Pat Roberts as the committee's top Republican.

The result, said Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, is a bill that's better for peanut and rice farmers because it allows them to select an insurance option that kicks in if prices dip too low.

Peanuts are harder to insure under the standard program because they are not traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and thus more exposed to price swings.

Chambliss said the Senate bill's target price is set below what peanuts have sold for the past few years.

"That is a safety net for farmers," he said. "That's the way it ought to be."

The Senate proposes light modifications to the food stamp program that would not hit Georgia's 1.9 million recipients, but the House version would eliminate a practice that automatically gives food stamps to people who qualify for other forms of assistance.

Officials at Georgia's Department of Human Services could not say for sure how many people would be affected. Spokeswoman Ravae Graham said it was "probably a small amount."

Nationwide, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 1.8 million people would lose benefits.

The food stamp program has grown considerably in recent years during the economic downturn. Nationwide, there are now more than 47 million people receiving food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but the number is expected to decline as the economy improves.

Atlanta Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott said he is distressed that House Republicans want to "cut food stamps as much as possible because they've got a misconception of it . It's not illegal immigrants getting food stamps. It's not a guy with a do rag on his head trading food stamps for a lap dance or a bottle of liquor. It's not that."

Scott said most food stamps go to women with children, and veterans are increasingly relying on them.

___

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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