On Feb. 7, President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The farm bill, formally the Agriculture Act of 2014, eliminates direct subsidies for all commodities that are produced except cotton, but increases and extends subsidized crop insurance to help preserve crop prices. The president insisted that the bipartisan legislation is not just about helping farmers but boosting the economy as a whole. The 2014 farm bill is expected to save about $24 billion over 10 years, compared to the current agricultural budget. However, the bill cuts $8 billion dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Overall, the new farm bill is set to enhance the agricultural economy in states such as Michigan — one of the nation’s largest and most diverse farming economies — but will be detrimental to SNAP beneficiaries.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the food and agriculture industry contributes $91.4 billion to the state’s economy every year. Michigan’s agricultural industry produces more than 200 types of commodities on a commercial basis and employs 923,000 people in the state’s workforce. Michigan ranks second in the United States in terms of crop diversity and is also a leader in specialty crops such as apples, cherries and sugar beets. Since specialty crops have been garnering increased interest under the new bill, Michigan is a target for larger research funding.

The 2014 farm bill links agricultural practices and land conservation. For the first time since the original farm bill was enacted in 1933, the federal funding assigned to conservation — approximately $56 billion — exceeds the present commodity subsidies, which is approximately $44.4 billion. Farmers are able to access natural resources to produce healthful and homegrown foods that contribute to air, water and soil conservation in Michigan. This provision is especially important to Michigan farmers, as preservation agreements make up about three percent of the state’s total farmland.

Though the bill is necessary for economic revitalization, its cuts are hazardous to those in need. The 2014 farm bill will reduce SNAP’s funds by $8 billion. Much of the savings from the farm bill are in part due to these cuts. These cuts will affect low-income households in 15 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 850,000 households will experience a cut of about $90 a month in aid. Though this is minimal compared to the Republican’s proposed $40 billion cut, the impact on families who depend on SNAP is substantial. Further action needs to be taken by the administration to ensure that adequate aid is provided to people in need.

East Lansing was the perfect place for Obama to sign the landmark legislation. MSU is a pioneer land-grant college, established in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. MSU continues to maintain a tradition of excellent agricultural studies program and is a leader in bio-based research and development. While the University isn’t an agricultural school, research in chemical and biological engineering may indirectly impact the state’s agricultural industry. Supporting agriculture is vital to Michigan’s economic health and recovery.

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