President Obama signs US farm bill into law, says it will promote agriculture, provide more money for research into environment and energy, feed hungry Americans through food stamp program

MCLEAN, Virginia , February 7, 2014 () – President Obama signed the bipartisan farm bill Friday, saying it will promote agriculture, provide more money for research into the environment and energy, and feed hungry Americans through the food stamp program.

Comparing the massive new law to a "Swiss Army Knife," Obama told supporters at Michigan State University that the farm bill "multitasks. It's creating more good jobs, gives more Americans a shot at opportunity."

Obama also compared the bill to baseball star Mike Trout, saying both can do a little bit of everything.

The five-year bill -- approved by Congress this week after years of fierce debate -- expands federal crop insurance. It also changes the food stamp program, cutting it by $800 million per year -- about 1% -- and raising the automatic eligibility requirement.

The new law "helps rural communities grow" and "gives farmers some certainty," while also helping "make sure America's children don't go hungry," Obama said.

The new bill also eliminated some $5 billion in subsidies to farmers, to be replaced by an insurance program.

"This bill helps to clamp down on loopholes that allowed people to receive benefits year after year whether they were planting crops or not," Obama said. "And it saves taxpayers hard-earned dollars by making sure that we only support farmers when disaster strikes or prices drop."

While Obama hailed the farm bill as a bipartisan measure, the signing ceremony was not -- no Republican accepted Obama's invitation to attend the event in Michigan.

Some Republicans had sought more cuts to the food stamp program and more changes to the farm subsidy system.

Obama and his aides also promoted a program called "Made in Rural America," designed to boost exports of U.S. agricultural products.

Speaking in front of a backdrop that included a John Deere tractor, Obama said that "we've got great products here that need to be sold, and we can do even more to sell around the world."

Before the speech, Obama toured a biotechnology plant in Lansing, looking at ways that agricultural products can be converted into fuel, chemicals, and animal food.

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