What the Passage of the Farm Bill Means for Farmers and Consumers

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- The U.S. Senate passed the nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill today in a 68 to 32 vote.

Area farmers have been waiting for the passage of this bill ever since the last one expired in Sept. 2012.

Fears of toppling over the "Milk Cliff" are subsiding now that the Farm Bill is making it's way to President Obama's desk.

"In the law, it states that is we do not pass a Farm Bill, then it will revert back to the 1940 prices which were very high for milk. It was $300 per hundred weight," said farmer and Warren County Cooperative Extension Agent for Agriculatural and Natural Resouces Joanna Coles.

That's about 19 dollars a gallon. Todays passage, while missing the deadline by a month, was soon enough to prevent the price hike. Now the attention shifts to how the farm bill will affect the farmers and the average consumer. Coles says farmers in the midwest and Kentucky, which farm row crops like corn and soy beans, will have to risk less each season because the bill trades direct payment subsidies, for subsidies for crop insurance.

"Direct payments were actually paid to farmers whether they actually planted the crop or not, and now they've changed it to more of a focus on crop insurance and risk management for farmers, so if they were to have a disasterous year, they would have that crop insurance to fall back on," said Coles.

That's something still fresh on many farmers' minds after the severe drought of 2012, but thanks to the bill farmers can't get those subsidies without following some farming conservation guildlines.

Another change the bill brings is more labeling requirements for meat products. Now, you will see the where your pork, chicken and beef was born, slaughtered, and processed, but coles says it may come at some price.

"It's going to cause a little bit of burden in the tracking of that entire system, which is unfortunately going to drive up the cost of meat, because it's just going to cost more to get all that information and make sure that gets on the label," said Coles.

And also in the bill is Senator Mitch McConnell's hemp provision, which will give states like Kentucky, that have legalized industrial hemp, the go ahead to produce it.

Another large part of the Farm Bill impacting consumers, is the cuts to food stamps. Up to 850,000 food stamp recipients could lose up to $90 per-month under the bill. Local food stamp service personnel eere not available for comment today.

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