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Farm Bill Cuts Food Stamps, Boosts Specialty Crop Funding

Oregon's food stamp benefits are distributed via Oregon Trail cards.
Oregon's food stamp benefits are distributed via Oregon Trail cards.

Oregon Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden were among the 68 senators who helped pass the five-year, trillion-dollar farm bill at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

The bill includes a number of provisions that would be felt here in Oregon, including a 30 percent increase in funding for the specialty crop industry.

The bill also cuts benefits for food stamp recipients. Oregon Food Bank anticipates the cuts could hit 78,000 households, reducing their benefits by an average of $58 per month.

Sen. Merkley was asked about those cuts today during a conference call with reporters.

"I did not support these cuts," he said. "I voted against them when the the amendment came before the Senate. Unfortunately, we did end up with some cuts to the program and, yes, they will hurt families in Oregon."

Tom Towslee, a spokesman for Sen. Wyden, said the cuts were one provision in a large bill. He said Wyden's vote was "in no way an endorsement" of the cuts. Towslee said the cuts were far smaller than what was originally sought by House Republicans.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting