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Stabenow talks Farm Bill and bridge to Canada

field of hay with red barn
Flickr user Julie Falk

This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama's trip to Michigan State University where he signed the massive, almost $1 trillion U.S. Farm Bill into law.

Michigan's Senior Senator, Democrat Debbie Stabenow, then-chairwoman of Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, was the force behind getting Democrats and Republicans to pass the measure.

The bill was a poster child for bipartisanship. She says the law has brought about new investments in conservation, as well as new ways for growers to buy crop insurance.

But the bill wasn't unanimously supported and some, including a few Michigan Democrats, voted against it because of changes made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

While some members of Congress were nervous about the changes, Stabenow says revisions actually expanded some options for families to get more fresh produce through farmer's markets along with broadening the fruit and vegetable program for school children. Stabenow also says SNAP is now protected for five years.

Recently, Stabenow's work has also involved discussions with Canada about the development of the New International Trade Crossing. Earlier today, Toronto's Globe and Mail reported that vehicle tolls will be used to pay for a customs plaza on the U.S. side. This report comes afterPresident Obama’s preliminary budget didn’t include the $250 million needed to pay for the plaza.

Stabenow would not comment on the truth of tolls being used for the funding, saying she didn't want to get ahead of those directly involved in the negotiations.

"I think it's fair to say the United States and the state of Michigan have a big stake in this bridge and the customs plaza. We ought to be providing the funding for it as Americans, but right now for whatever reason we cannot get the bi-partisan support to do any kind of infrastructure construction," says Stabenow.

Stabenow is optimistic about moving forward with the project, though. "You never know until you see everything, but I would say things are moving in the right direction.”

*Listen to our conversation with Sen. Stabenow above

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