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What is the farm bill? Answers to questions about the sweeping bill headed to Obama's desk

WASHINGTON - The huge, five-year farm bill that Congress sent to President Obama on Tuesday sets policy for hundreds of programs, including farm subsidies and food stamps. It would make small cutbacks to both, eliminating some subsidy programs and cutting the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program by $800 million a year, or 1 per cent. Conservatives had proposed much higher cuts. President Obama is scheduled to sign the bill in East Lansing, Mich. on Friday. Some questions and answers about the farm bill and its politics: Q: What is the farm bill?

Investment needed to ease Mideast port congestion: Cargill

By Maha El Dahan ABU DHABI (Reuters) - U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc.<CARG.UL> sees a pressing need for more investment to relieve port congestion in the Middle East and North Africa to ease delays that make governments pay more for imported food. On the export side, Cargill is interested in new ideas for investment to get more Black Sea region grain exports to the world market while overcoming limitations of space for new facilities there.

Q&A: What's in the farm bill? At nearly $1 trillion, something for everyone

WASHINGTON - The nearly 1,000-page compromise farm bill is designed to have something for everyone. There's more money for crop insurance popular in the Midwest, higher peanut and rice subsidies for Southern farmers and the renewal of federal land payments for Western states. The bill also sets policy for the almost $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, which has doubled in cost in the last five years. Conservatives wanted to cut the program by as much as 5 per cent, but the bill would only trim the program by $800 million a year, or 1 per cent.

Food security, rural environment top China's policy agenda in 2014

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top policy priorities for 2014 will be improving the rural environment and maintaining food security, according to a a key policy document published by the official Xinhua news agency on Sunday. The "number one document", issued every January by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, sets the country's policy priorities for the year, and has focused on rural matters every year since 2003.

Indiana lawmakers weigh push to promote state-grown food in restaurants, farmers' markets

INDIANAPOLIS - A bill to promote Indiana-grown food is on the table for state lawmakers. Lawmakers are set to discuss the Indiana Grown Initiative, a $5 million effort to support the state's agriculture. The bill authored by Republican Rep. Matt Lehman of Berne was to be heard by the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on Thursday morning. The bill would create a commission to market locally grown food to residents, farmers' markets and restaurants.

UN cuts rations for a million Zimbabweans

Around a million poverty-stricken Zimbabweans face hunger after the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced Tuesday it was cutting food rations due to a cash crunch. "We'd been hoping to have scaled up our seasonal relief operations... in the coming months with distributions of food and, in some areas, cash," Tomson Phiri, WFP spokesman in Zimbabwe, said as the country enters the peak of the so-called hunger season.

UN cuts rations for a million Zimbabweans

Around a million poverty-stricken Zimbabweans face hunger after the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced Tuesday it was cutting food rations due to a cash crunch. "We'd been hoping to have scaled up our seasonal relief operations... in the coming months with distributions of food and, in some areas, cash," Tomson Phiri, WFP spokesman in Zimbabwe, said as the country enters the peak of the so-called hunger season.

Global food prices steady in December, down in 2013: FAO

ROME (Reuters) - Global food prices rose slightly in December after staying flat the month before, but prices on average declined 1.6 percent in 2013 versus the previous year, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 206.7 points in December, a marginal rise from a revised 206.4 in November.

Global food prices steady in December: FAO

ROME (Reuters) - Global food prices were almost unchanged in December after staying flat the month before, but prices on average declined 1.6 percent in 2013 versus the previous year, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 206.7 points in December, a slight rise from a revised 206.4 in November.

UN supplies seeds for typhoon-hit Philippine farmers

The UN food agency on Tuesday said it had begun supplying farmers in the Philippines with emergency seed supplies after a devastating typhoon that struck just at the beginning of the planting season. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said it was delivering rice and corn seed to rural communities in the Visayan island group that will allow farmers to collect a harvest in March and April.
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