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Obama Would Veto House's Farm Bill, White House Says

President Obama will be advised to veto a multi-year farm bill slated to be discussed in the House this week, the White House says. The administration issued a statement on the legislation Monday afternoon, criticizing it for cutting food programs for the poor.

At more than 575 pages, the bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

When it was released in early May, Rep. Lucas called the bill, officially titled the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, "a responsible and balanced bill that addresses Americans' concerns about federal spending and reforms farm and nutrition policy to improve efficiency and accountability."

The Obama administration doesn't agree, saying today that the "bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in SNAP, which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including families with children and senior citizens."

The White House added that if the bill's sponsors want to make budget cuts, they ought to reduce federal subsidies, such as crop insurance.

"Rather than reducing crop insurance subsidies by $11.7 billion over 10 years, as proposed in the President's Budget," the statement reads, "H.R. 1947 would increase reference prices for farmers by roughly 45 percent and increase already generous crop insurance subsidies at a cost of nearly $9 billion over 10 years to the Nation's taxpayers."

A summary of the bill released by the House Agriculture Committee says the legislation will "eliminate or consolidate over 100 programs," in addition to enacting the "first reforms to SNAP since the welfare reforms of 1996, saving more than $20 billion."

Among those changes, Republicans say, are two moves to keep states from adding more people to the food program than the law was meant to allow. Earlier today, Lucas tweeted a photo of a chart listing those reforms.

When the farm bill was released, Rep. Peterson said he believes "there are more responsible ways to reform nutrition programs," but he added that "the bottom line is that this is the first step in the process and it is past time to pass a five-year farm bill."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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