US lawmakers agree on farm bill, vote this week

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Relief for farmers impacted by the trade war with China could be soon on the way.

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U.S. lawmakers have reached an agreement on the Farm Bill that drops a proposal to tighten food stamps restrictions backed by President Trump.

Congressional staffers say they are looking to vote on it this week, according to Reuters.

The agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the crucial piece of legislation caps a months-long bitter debate, and offers some financial certainty to farmers.

Programs covered by the bill include crop subsidies and support to growers seeking access to export markets.

The biggest items that Republicans had to walk back being the Trump-backed proposal to impose stricter worker requirements for recipients of food stamps.

Food stamps, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is known, are used by more than 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.

China, normally the top buyer of U.S. farm produce, has been absent from the market after the imposition of tariffs due to the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

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The bill will extend the eligibility for crop subsidies to nephews, nieces and cousins of a farmer, which is likely to escalate criticism over what is already seen as a too-broad definition of who qualifies for the funds.

At the moment, a farmer’s immediate family can be eligible for crop subsidies up to $125,000 per person based on “active engagement.”

Opponents say such language is vague and could apply to people who do not even live on the farm and only carry out management roles.

Once the votes are completed, the bill goes to Trump for final signature.