President Obama on Friday signed the $956 billion 2014 farm bill into law at a ceremony at Michigan State University.
The president touted the bipartisan effort that pushed the bill through Congress after three years of fits and starts at a ceremony skipped by Republicans invited to the event.
Obama's comments focused on the economy, and came the day a disappointing jobs report found the nation added just 113,000 jobs in January.
“That's the way Washington should continue to work, because we've got more work to do," he said of the farm bill. "We've got more work to do to potentially make sure that unemployment insurance is put in place for a lot of folks out there who need it. We've got more work to do to pass the minimum wage.”
He said that the bill saves money even though its total $16.6 billion in savings, including $8 billion in food stamp cuts, is less than Obama wanted to cut from farm programs in past budgets.
“It doesn't include everything that I'd like to see, and I know leaders on both sides of the aisle feel the same way, but it's a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come through with this bill, break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis- driven, partisan decision-making and actually get this stuff done,” he said.
He hailed the farm bill for ending the direct farm payment program and replacing it with expanded crop insurance and subsidies based on revenue and price declines.
“It saves taxpayers hard-earned dollars by making sure that we only support farmers when disaster strikes or prices drop. It's not just automatic,” Obama said.
He also said the bill protects the vulnerable although some liberal Democrats say it cuts too much from food stamps.
“The second thing this farm bill does that is huge is help make sure America's children don't go hungry,” Obama said.
The farm bill cuts $8 billion in food stamps by curtailing the ability of individuals to become eligible for food aid by virtue of receiving heating aid. The original House bill contained $39 billion in cuts.
Obama also used the signing ceremony in Michigan to highlight what he said was a rebounding auto industry.
“Thanks to your grit, and determination and ingenuity, the American industry’s engines are roaring again,” Obama said. “We’re building the best cars in the world again ... something nobody would’ve imagined just a few years ago.”
The president had toured a biotechnology plant before his speech, where he had lunch with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.