The U.S. House of Representatives passed it's version of the Farm Bill yesterday, January 29, on a vote of 251 to 166. Pundits on the right and left have decried the bill, either for spending too much in subsidies, or for directing too much money from the poor to the rich, but Montana farmer representatives seem to be happy with the final product.

"We're tickled to see some of the things in it, and particularly, some of those that deal with livestock,"said Montana Farmer's Union Legislative & Project Specialist Chris Christiaens. "The $4 billion that's in there for livestock disaster is retroactive, so it helps those people who lost to fires last year in southeastern Montana, their grazing and their fences. It also includes funding for the livestock indemnity program and forage program. It also gives livestock programs a 10-year base line for the very first time. "

Christiaens said the farm bill will also help pay for new veterinarians, an occupation that is quickly declining in Montana. There was also optimism for farmers.

"I think the most important part of it is that it ensures farmers and ranchers that they have some certainty as they prepare for planting season this spring," Christiaens said

The Farm Bill is expected to sail through the Senate with little controversy because it was already approved by senate leadership during conference committee on Monday. Christiaens said that all of Montana's congressional delegation are in support of the bill.

Chris Christiaens: