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HOUSE PASSES FARM BILL

Farmers would gain more freedom to decide what to grow and environmental safeguards would be strengthened under the House farm bill. The House voted Wednesday to lower the limit on direct farm-program payments and to set up the first-ever national definition of organically produced food.

The bill calls for spending about $54 billion in commodity supports, as well as dictating the scope of public feeding, research, export subsidy, and conservation programs.

And like the Senate bill passed last week, the House bill would give farmers a limited form of so-called planting flexibility.

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