By DON WALTON, Lincoln Journal Star

Rep. Adrian Smith hailed House passage of a new farm bill Wednesday, expressing “strong support” for the legislation from the congressional district that he says leads the nation in agricultural production.

Smith’s 3rd District spreads across western and central Nebraska and also includes the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state.

“The No. 1 item on the farmers’ minds was the continuation of a strong crop insurance program,” the Republican congressman said. “This farm bill accomplishes the objective.”

The bill did not include an earlier House provision that would have imposed strong work requirements for recipients of so-called food stamps provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.

The legislation passed the Senate on Tuesday by an 87-13 vote.

Smith said the bill “recognizes the challenges and threats facing our livestock producers by creating a disease-prevention program and vaccine bank to help contain any potential future outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in our country.”

Also included in the legislation is a provision legalizing industrial hemp.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, said the bill “delivers key wins for Nebraska farmers, ranchers and consumers, as well as certainty and stability” for Nebraska’s ag economy.

“The bill provides over $600 million in funding for research and extension projects for land-grant universities like the University of Nebraska, which helps keep Nebraska agriculture a leader of innovation,” Bacon said.

Bacon also pointed to trade promotion features of the legislation.

“There are many wins for Nebraska in this bill,” he said.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said the bill will provide “risk-management tools for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers and food security to millions of Americans through its nutrition programs.”

The bill “ensures that America continues to lead the world in agricultural innovation, food safety and renewable fuels while enhancing opportunity for beginning farmers and local growers,” the Lincoln congressman said.

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