Republicans save billions during Farm Bill markup

Republicans cut $16 billion from the bloated food stamps program and another $6 billion from environmental programs under the farm bill that emerged from the House Agriculture Committee last week.

???This is a balanced, reform-minded, fiscally responsible bill that underscores our commitment to production agriculture and rural America, achieves real savings, and improves program efficiency,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

The package authorizes agriculture spending for the next decade and consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13 plans to save taxpayer dollars.

It also restricts the ever-widening eligibility rules under the Obama administration that have allowed the food stamp rolls to grow to more than 43 million people.

The legislation would make sure households meet the asset and gross income limits before benefits are approved.

The House committee approved the bill on a 35-11 vote Thursday; the next step is a vote on final passage by the full House.

The Senate approved their version of farm bill on a 64-35 vote in late June, which only cuts the food stamp program by $4.5 billion The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30, so the House and Senate will have to go to a conference committee to work out the differences before the bill receives final passage and is sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.