The House Agriculture Committee is could vote today on a farm bill package. Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, is a member of the committee. He says they’ve been putting it together on the House side for a long time, with hearings starting back in April. He says they will “mark up” a farm bill on July 11th.

King says one of the areas of the ag bill he wants to bring under control is the spending on the program formerly known as food stamps.

He says just a few years ago, there were 19 million Americans on food stamps, and now there’s 44.7 million.

“We have the U.S. Department of Agriculture spending millions of dollars advertising to get more people to sign up on food stamps. Now I’d rather spend that money on food than advertisement, if people are hungry then they are going to find a way to get fed. So that’s what we’re missing here, the philosophy of the U.S.D.A.,” King says.

“Neither do I buy the line that for every dollar worth of food stamps you hand out you get a dollar-four of economic activity. That’s not the way to grow the economy.” King says the way to grow the economy is to create more jobs. The U.S. Ag Secretary is former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and the husband of King’s Democratic opponent, Christie Vilsack.

King says he hopes the full House can pass a bill before the month. He says the goal is to get a bill done and get it to the conference committee, that way they can work on it during the month of August and have a bill ready to vote on after Labor Day “before the real silly season of politics is upon us.”

Overall, the House bill would cut Agriculture Department spending by 35-billion-dollars over 10 years, or 12-billion-dollars more than the Senate. The House bill’s revenue plan would pay growers when revenue is from 15-25 percent below average, while the Senate bill would eliminate traditional subsidies such as target prices and instead compensate growers when revenue from a crop is 11-21 percent below average.

In either bill, crop insurance would cover deeper losses.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City