- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2014

President Obama on Friday used his pen for something other than executive orders, signing into law a $100 billion-a-year farm bill that he said represents a bipartisan breakthrough and is evidence Republicans and Democrats still can work together on meaningful legislation.

During a speech at Michigan State University, Mr. Obama said lawmakers and all Americans should be encouraged by the new five-year law.

“Investing in the communities that grow our food, helping hard-working Americans put that food on the table — that’s what this farm bill does, all while reducing our deficit through smart reforms,” Mr. Obama said. “It doesn’t include everything I’d like to see and I know leaders on both sides of the aisle feel the same way. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come through with this bill, break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven partisan decision-making and actually get this stuff done. It’s a good sign.”

The long-awaited farm bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It cuts about $800 million, or 1 percent, from the federal food-stamp program, which Republicans argue has ballooned out of control in recent years.

The House GOP initially had wanted to cut about 5 percent from the program.

The bill also expands federal crop insurance and puts an end to direct government payments to farmers whether they’re producing or not.

While the bill also contains research funding and other investments, it was the food stamp provisions that had caused the most controversy. Mr. Obama hinted that he would’ve liked to see more money for food stamps, but said the bill will be effective in making sure “America’s children don’t go hungry.”

“For a lot of families, a crisis hits, you lose your job, somebody gets sick, strains on your budget — you have a strong work ethic but it might take you six months, nine months, a year, to find a job and in the meantime, you’ve got families to feed,” Mr. Obama said.

Also on Friday, the White House announced a new “Made In Rural America” initiative, which will assist farmers and companies sell more rural-made goods to foreign buyers.