President Barack Obama signed the new farm bill into law Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, ending years of negotiations and wrangling.
With farm equipment, hay bales and crates of apples setting the stage, the president told the crowd that this farm bill –officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014 – will save taxpayer dollars while also offering support to farmers and ranchers. And he says that helps the whole country.
“What we grow here and what we sell is a huge boost to the entire economy,” Obama said, “but especially to the rural economy.”
The long overdue farm bill replaces the 2008 one, which expired in the fall of 2012 and was extended until Sept. 30, 2013. Among the lawmakers attending the event was Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the U.S. Senate’s agriculture committee. Stabenow and the three other leaders of the conference committee charged with drafting a compromise farm bill from legislation passed in the U.S. House and Senate worked for months to find common ground on farm subsidies and nutrition assistance. Obama praised Stabenow for her leadership.
“[Stabenow] really shepherded through this farm bill, which was a very challenging piece of business,” Obama said.
The president also mentioned that during his visit to Michigan State he met students who were raising pigs.
“When I was in college I lived in a pig sty,” he said, “but I didn’t work in one, so I was impressed by that.”
At the close of his comments, the President took his place behind a desk on the dais and used several different pens in succession to put his signature down on the long-awaited new package of programs, which is projected to cost about $100 billion a year for the next five years.