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Michigan State University gets ready for the President

Feb 7th, 2014 - State News

— President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Michigan State University to sign the sweeping farm bill underscores the legislation's importance to the East Lansing school and other research and agriculture-focused institutions.

The hundreds of millions of dollars pledged for such research is a relative drop in the bucket for the nearly $100 billion-a-year bill that mainly provides money for food stamps, farm subsidies and crop insurance. Yet scientists are relieved that the five-year bill Obama will sign Friday is becoming law after years of legislative wrangling.

One of the beneficiaries is Rufus Isaacs. He's a Michigan State entomologist who leads a team of scientists working to enhance bee pollination of crops.

His project, which received an $8.6 million government grant, would have been in jeopardy if the farm bill didn't pass.

The farm bill expands federal crop insurance and ends direct government payments to farmers. But the bulk of its cost is for the foot stamp program that aids 1 in 7 Americans. The compromise bill cuts food stamps by $800 million a year.

Later this afternoon Pres. Obama will also unveil an initiative to help connect rural businesses with federal resources that can help sell their products and services abroad.

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