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Food stamp cuts may slow farm bill

May 2, 2012 at 9:21 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- House Republicans are calling for major cuts to U.S. food stamps, presenting an obstacle to passage of a 2012 farm bill, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

The 2013 budget passed by the House calls for massive spending cuts in the food stamp program that would hurt the poor who use food stamps and result in farmers losing $20 billion in direct income from the program, The Hill reported Wednesday.

"That's obviously just not going to happen," he told the Washington publication in an interview this week.

He said it will be a challenge finding common ground between the proposals put forward by the Senate, the president and the House. While the Senate's and President Obama's proposals are fairly closely aligned, the House's proposed $200 billion of cuts in commodity, conservation and nutrition programs will need some work, he said.

Vilsack said the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee, Reps. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., "may have their work cut out for them."

The Hill said Vilsack praised the House version of the farm bill for ending the system of direct cash payments to farmers.

"The fact that we are getting away from direct payments, getting to a system that is much more defensible out in the countryside, is certainly something the president has called for and certainly a positive," Vilsack was quoted as saying.

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