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

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)
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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.

"Itcuts $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 wouldcut 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

Copyright 2013 St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.