Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)
Washington — President Barack Obama will visit Michigan State University on Friday to sign the $956 billion farm bill and highlight agriculture’s importance to the economy after it received Senate approval Tuesday, the White House confirmed.
Obama is expected to see MSU agricultural research in action and deliver a speech about how agriculture creates jobs and feeds the country before signing the legislation, according to the White House. The announcement followed the Senate’s 68-32 vote Tuesday approving the farm bill.
Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon hailed the farm bill’s passage because it “not only provides strong support for new research enterprises, but it also strengthens and grows Michigan’s agriculture economy and helps sustain America’s global competitiveness.
“As the pioneer land-grant institution in America, we are honored and pleased that President Obama will be signing the farm bill on MSU’s campus.”
Obama’s visit is also expected to shine a light on Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, chairwoman of the Agricultural Committee, who was a driving force in winning agreement with House Republicans on the compromise measure — working on weekends and weeks Congress was out of session in recent months to win agreement. The president is expected to sign the legislation in a Friday afternoon ceremony at a university performance center.
Stabenow said Tuesday she was thrilled with the bill’s passage and proud Obama will sign at it at MSU, her alma mater.
“It’s a very exciting day,” she said.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, said Stabenow deserves recognition for her efforts.
“She deserves a feather in her cap,” Levin said.
The House passed the bill on a 251-166 vote on Jan. 29. The Michigan Farm Bureau said the bill gives farmers a more active role in managing their risky business with expanded crop insurance options and it shifts away from direct payments to growers.
“This bill really does represent an exciting change of direction for American agriculture,” said Ryan Findlay, national legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “Farmers are just like most other businessmen and women in that they prefer to make their own decisions and shoulder their own responsibilities, whether it’s about when and what to plant in a given field, or what kind or how much crop insurance to purchase.”
The White House has only said Obama will use his speech in East Lansing — the first visit to Michigan since December 2012 — to make remarks on the economy.
Obama will not attend any political fundraisers during his brief trip to East Lansing. It won’t be warm. The current prediction is for a high of 20 degrees with a 10 percent chance of snow.
Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to make a speech Friday outside of Lansing, so it isn’t clear if he will attend.