U.S. Markets closed

Vt US Rep. Welch hopes farm bill will help farmers

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Peter Welch said Tuesday he hopes the farm bill being considered in Congress will help stabilize milk prices for Vermont dairy farmers, include disaster insurance for vegetable growers and promote the use of local fruits and vegetables in school lunches.

Welch, a Democrat and former member of the House Agriculture Committee, spoke of his priorities for the farm bill, which is due to be discussed by the committee on Wednesday, at a Burlington news conference.

"Vermont's agriculture sector is critical to our economy and to the livelihoods of hard working farmers all over the state. It is essential that Congress do its job and pass a Farm Bill to ensure the viability of our farms and the availability of nutritious food in our schools and to families in need," he said.

The farm bill sets policy for farm subsidies, programs to protect environmentally-sensitive land, rural development and food stamps. Food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, make up roughly 80 percent of the legislation's cost.

On Tuesday the Senate Agriculture Committee approved a $100 million, five-year farm bill that would cut spending while also creating new subsidies for farmers. The House version to be considered Wednesday would save $4 billion out of almost $100 billion annually.

Welch said he also hoped the farm bill would protect nutrition programs from unreasonable cuts, provide support and organic programs and help Vermont's maple industry grow through federal support for research and promotion.