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Mo. & Ill. Congressmen Speak Out On Federal Farm Bill As US House Prepares To Vote

Bayer says glyphosate is a key tool for farmers as they try to control weeds and produce enough corn and other crops to help feed the world.
File Photo | Adam Allington | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of Missouri and Illinois' Congressional delegations are weighing in on the U.S. House version of the Farm Bill, which could be voted on before week's end.

Illinois Republican Rodney Davis told reporters today via conference call that the bill is a big improvement over the version passed by the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate.

"It cuts $40 billion in spending," Davis said.  "We still have a strong crop insurance program, and we cut out some of the waste and fraud and (food stamp) loopholes to save $40 billion dollars -- this is one of the first true cuts in spending in Washington."

Democrats, including St. Louis Congressman William Lacy Clay, say the GOP-backed bill goes too far.  Clay calls the cuts "outrageous."

"The savings achieved are small when compared to the great human suffering this change would cause," Clay said.  "This is targeting the least among us."

Clay says ending subsidies on sugar, corn and other crops would be a better way to save money on agriculture costs.  Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer from east central Missouri says, though, that food stamps still make up 80 percent of the bill,  even though it would cut funding for food stamps by just over $20 billion.

"Quite frankly, there's nobody that's getting food stamps now that will not get them, that deserves to get them, with the cuts that we're making," Luetkemeyer said.  "Basically what we're doing is going back to making sure that people, because of their assets and their income, actually qualify for the program."

Luetkemeyer says it would also do away with direct payments to farmers while using insurance as a safety net.    President Obama (D) has threatened to veto the House version of the farm bill if it makes it to his desk.  A vote by the U.S. House could come as early as Thursday afternoon, according to an aide for Congressman Davis.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.