Farm Bill 2014

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

A bipartisan measure, the House of Representatives has passed the Farm Bill, as did the Senate, so look for these changes and implementations:

As the bill becomes law, it will cost $100 billion dollars a year to maintain.

Some of the money will go to support SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

One in seven Americans uses this program, which involves 47 millions people.

The food stamp program was on the chopping block, and the Farm Bill cuts $800 million dollars out of its budget, and seeks to stop programs in states that help individual food stamp benefits that also give people federal heating assistance.

Other monies will go to programs that help protect sensitive environmental areas and also farm subsidy programs.

Federal subsidies given to farmers will run through a newly revamped program and this helps them stay in business in an unpredictable economy and climate.

The fixed $4.5 billion dollar a year subsidy of direct payments to farmers, whether they farm or not, is to be eliminated. Under the new program, farmers will be required to suffer a loss before they can collect money from the government.

Dairy and cotton subsidies will be revamped into similar loss-incurment programs.

Farmers will choose between a program that pays out when prices drop or one that pays out when revenues dip.

On top of these subsidies, this legislation will be spending approximately $570 million dollars more a year on crop insurance, which helps protect farmers against major losses.

Everyone is complaining about food stamp fraud, and the Department of Agriculture is looking seriously at the problem.

Retailers who sell food stamps will be closely monitored, as will SNAP itself, including efforts to make sure that citizens who have died are not continuing to receive food stamp benefits.

Other people, such as convicted sex offenders, murderers and other criminals, along with lottery winners, will also be monitored.

Animal rights organizations scored a big victory with the new Farm Bill, pertaining to chickens and the egg industry, (in that a provision that the House of Representatives had tried to block,) concerning the California law requiring all eggs sold in that state come from hens who are housed in larger cages.

Egg-laying chickens are usually housed in small, indoor wire cages, with as many as 3 to 4 other hens in the cage, under fluorescent lights; they never see sunlight.

Livestock organizations have fought this state law, and egg producers from other states will be affected, since many are still using the small hen cages. The egg industry is a huge money-maker

in California.

Animal rights advocates won out, and got the provision thrown out, thus insuring that all eggs sold in the state of California come from hens housed in larger living quarters.

They also won by adding a provision with language that will make it a federal crime to attend animal fights, including dog or rooster fights, and also to make it a federal crime to take a child to attend such an event.

Another provision in the Farm Bill concerns the agricultural growing of hemp.

Hemp is marijuana’s non-drugging relative, and it has many uses in every day living, such as the making of soaps, lotions and creams, rope, mulch and clothing.

The growing of hemp will only be allowed in 10 states, who already permit the growing of the plant. Federal drug laws currently ban the actual cultivation and growing of hemp in most of these states.

Further research on hemp will be ongoing as the Farm Bill becomes law.

Many points to ponder as I leave you once again with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, "Happy Trails to You."