President Barack Obama signed the Farm Bill into law Friday at Michigan State University.
The president spoke to the crowd of about 500 invited guests at the McPhail Equine Center prior to signing the legislation.
"Investing in the communities that grow our food, helping hard working Americans put that food on the table, that's what this Farm Bill does," said President Obama. "This bill helps rural communities by investing in hospitals and schools, affordable housing, broadband infrastructure, all the things that help attract more businesses and make life easier for working families."
The nearly $1 trillion Farm Bill includes reforms to agriculture programs, including eliminating the direct payment subsidy program, and cracking down on fraud and misuse. It will pay for things like crop insurance, research into specialty crops, safety inspections, and the promotion of home-grown foods. It also includes an $8 billion cut to food stamps. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate.
"Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill," said President Obama. "It's like a Swiss Army knife."
President Obama also talked about the resurgence of the American auto industry, his conversation with new Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the economy, and Friday's jobs report.
Prior to his speech, the president toured the Michigan Biotechnology Institute, a non-profit research lab owned by the MSU Foundation. It helps inventors prove their products are commercially viable before they hit hte market, taking some of the risk out of the process.
Ben LaCross, a cherry farmer from Traverse City, introduced the president. Prior to that, Acting MSU Provost June Youatt welcomed the crowd and introduced Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who was instrumental in getting the Farm Bill passed.
"It has been a long road," Sen. Stabenow said, of the years of work she's put into getting a new Farm Bill passed. "This is a perfect ending to a very big challenge, and we got it done. It was a long haul, but we really showed if you work together and have patience and listen to other people and are willing to look for common ground, you can actually achieve great things."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Michigan and MSU will benefit from the Farm Bill and other new agriculture initiatives in the pipeline.
"This is going to create new opportunities for research that's critically important to rural America," Vilsack told News 10. "This university is doing cutting-edge research on the bio-based economy. This new Farm Bill gives opportunities for job creation in rural America."
Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, both democrats, were in attendance, as were Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett, State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer and State Reps. Andy Schor and Sam Singh, among other state and local leaders. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer was also there. Farmers, students, and representatives from the agriculture industry were also invited to attend.