Highway outside Amarillo, Texas.

[imgcontainer] [img:166063617_ba03cd4297_o.jpg] [source]Photo by toshism[/source] Highway outside Amarillo, Texas. [/imgcontainer]

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed more than 200 amendments to the five-year, $939 billion farm bill.  Erik Wasson of The Hill  outlines seven particular battles to watch in the coming days.

  • Nutrition program funding. The bill cuts $20.5 billion from the food stamp program. Liberals say that’s too much. Conservatives say it’s not enough and have proposed deeper cuts.
  • Corn and soy farmers in the Midwest are backing an amendment proposed by Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Rep. Ron Kind (R-Wis.) to limit price-based subsidies. Southern farmers, including those who grow rice and peanuts, will fight this amendment.
  • Changes in the dairy section of the bill, called the “Dairy Security Act,” face criticism from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and industries that use dairy products.
  • Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) is the chief sponsor of the amendment to change the sugar program, after many big sugar users say higher sugar prices threaten their industries.
  • Reps. Jeff Denham (D-Calif.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) proposed a national standard for egg production which would preclude state-by-state regulation.
  • Fiscal conservatives are offering amendments targeting agriculture subsidies such as the Market Access Program (MAP) and support for sushi rice and stone production.
  • Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) propose an amendment to allow foreign nations to buy more of their food aid abroad rather than receiving as much in direct shipments from the United States.

Texas Transportation – Rural roads could benefit from additional funding if Texas Gov. Rick Perry includes transportation to the special legislative session agenda. This is welcome news to Rep. Drew Darby, who said he was disappointed the Legislature didn’t adequately address transportation funding at the end of the regular session. “This would be an opportunity to benefit rural Texas,” Darby said.

Texas transportation officials say the state needs to spend about $4 billion more a year just to keep up with current needs.

Working on the Rail Trail – Saturday the largest “rail trail” in Kentucky opened to the public. The national organization Rails to Trails took unused rail lines that ran through Johnson, Magoffin and Breathitt Counties and transformed them into a trail for bikers and walkers. The rail stretches 18 miles and could be doubled in the future.

Officials say the trail will help the local economy through tourism. “[Tourists] need a place to eat, a place to stay, they need supplies, you know they need all kinds of things so they can enjoy themselves,” said Gov. Steve Brashear.  

Welcome to the Show – An independent movie theater in West Plains, Missouri, is making a trip to the movies possible for a group children who previously were unable to go. The Glass Sword Cinema is planning a special screening of “Monsters University” for children with autism and other disabilities. They will leave the lights on, turn the sound down and show the movie in 2D so the experience won’t overload viewers’ senses.

Mothers like Dawn Sander, whose 4-year-old son has developmental disabilities, were overjoyed. “Jack has never been able to even try to go to the movies before … He is over-stimulated and under-stimulated by different things that a typical child might just find normal.”

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