President Barack Obama got to wrap up a rare bit of bipartisanship today when he traveled to Michigan to sign the long-awaited farm bill. The 5 year bill expands federal crop insurance and ends direct government payments to farmers, while the bulk of the costs savings are in the food stamp program.

Fourth District Congressman Doc Hastings, who voted for the bill, says it continues important investments in agriculture research,  specialty crops, pest management and trade promotion  programs,  while at the same time it saves taxpayers billions of dollars. "The farm bill from a policy stand point consolidates a number of programs but probably more importantly, it cuts some 23 billion dollars over ten years, with most of the cuts coming from the food stamp program.  Hastings says those who need help will still get it but the new bill will tighten up the eligibility requirements to hopefully get rid of fraud and abuse of the program."

Hastings also says "while more can certainly be done, I’m encouraged that this bipartisan bill makes the largest reforms to farm and nutrition assistance programs in U.S. history.” The legislation fully funds the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which provides funding for vital services in counties containing federal lands.