From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

President Barack Obama signed a new Farm Bill into law on February 7th. The law ends guaranteed government payments to farmers. Critics say the legislation replaces the old system with farm aid that may violate international trade rules. The law also changes how the United States provides food aid around the world.

The new Farm Bill ended $5 billion a year in automatic payments to farmers. It also expands programs that protect farmers from bad weather or low crop prices. And it offers an insurance program to protect farmers. The program guarantees that their earnings do not drop much from year to year.

Dan Sumner is an economist with the University of California, Davis. He told VOA that the Farm Bill could cause problems. He says farmers in other parts of the world do not get the same guarantees from their governments. US government payments to farmers pushed down cotton prices in the early 2000s. The United States lost an international trade dispute over those payments. Dan Sumner says the new law could re-open that dispute.

Dale Moore is the chief of policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation. His group represents growers. He does not believe the law will violate the international limits on farm aid. The legislation should help food aid reach more people around the world. Earlier rules forced aid groups to buy food from American farmers. Aid workers say buying food locally is much quicker than buying food from the United States and shipping it to those who need it. Aid workers say with the same amount of money, help can now reach more hungry people.