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US Congress passes huge bill reforming agro subsidies

Published on Feb 5, 2014 6:39 AM
 
A mechanical harvester harvests sugar cane in the fields on Jan 28, 2014 in Clewiston, Florida. The US Congress passed a massive, long-overdue bill Tuesday that overhauls agriculture policy, including halting direct payments to farmers. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Congress passed a massive, long-overdue bill Tuesday that overhauls agriculture policy, including halting direct payments to farmers.

The five-year US$956.4 billion (S$1,213.50 billion) measure, which also reforms the food stamp programme for the poor to save US$8 billion, marks a rare point of cooperation among bitterly divided lawmakers.

It passed the Senate 68-32, with broad bipartisan support after easily clearing the House of Representatives last week.

It now heads to the White House for the signature of President Barack Obama, who hailed the compromise measure as one that will "create new jobs and opportunities, and protect the most vulnerable Americans." While noting the bill was not perfect, Mr Obama said it "provides certainty to America's farmers and ranchers, and contains a variety of commonsense reforms that my administration has consistently called for, including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most." The bill's passage ends a nearly three-year battle over agriculture policy.

 
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