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Idaho dairy farmers produce more milk and cheese than almost any state in the nation. Idaho is ranked third behind California and Wisconsin.

Labrador, Simpson Vote For Farm Bill; Crapo Still Unsure

Dairy Cows

Idaho’s Republican delegation in the U.S. House voted early Wednesday in favor of the new farm bill. Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson cast votes in favor of the legislation, which cuts more than $8 billion in food stamp spending while ending a direct subsidy to crop farmers. It also expands crop insurance programs backed by the federal government.

The bill passed the House by a 251-166 vote. Simpson and Labrador were among 162 Republicans who vote for it.

Sen. Mike Crapo says he and Sen. Jim Risch will meet today to discuss the bill and whether to support it. Crapo says there are parts of the revamped farm bill he likes, and others he’s not pleased with.

“This bill has very strong reasons to vote for it,” he says. “And there are very strong objections.”

Crapo says he doesn’t think the nearly $1 trillion bill cuts enough spending, specifically in the food stamp program. He’s also unhappy with the inclusion of country of origin labeling (COOL) language that he says hurts the state’s ranchers. The ranching industry strongly opposes the bill because it leaves in place the so-called COOL rules that the meat industry says costs it millions of dollars each year.

Crapo says provisions for Idaho’s sugar and dairy farmers are among the bill’s positives.

“Most of the commodity groups and the agriculture portions of the bill are satisfactory – in fact, are helpful – to many of our constituents in other parts of agriculture,” he says.

The bill would continue to fund the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and Secure Rural Schools programs. The Senator says he’s happy those programs are included in the farm bill, but thinks their funding levels should be higher.   

Crapo says he’s weighing the parts of the bill he likes against the legislation’s shortcomings. A spokeswoman for Risch says he, too, is undecided.

“It is a very, very difficult decision,” Crapo says. “This is a very major bill for our country.”

Senate leaders haven’t yet scheduled a vote.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio

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