U.S. Senate passes farm bill, heads to the House
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The U.S. Democrat-run Senate passed its version on the half-trillion farm bill late Monday. The bill passed with strong support, 66 to 27, and now heads to the Republican-controlled House.
The five-year farm bill eliminates direct payments to farmers while expanding a taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance program. The Senate version of the bill would cut the food stamp program by $400 million a year. Food stamps were added to the farm bill decades ago to gain urban lawmakers votes for farm subsidy programs. As the bill has evolved, the food stamp portion has grown exponentially and now represents 80 percent of the farm bill. The food stamp cuts are the major difference between the two versions. The House version calls for a $20-billion reduction. Despite the major differences, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwomen Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan said she is confident that it will come together.
House debate on the farm bill is expected to start June 17. It will take strong bipartisan support from the Senate and the House to pass the farm bill legislation before the extension of the farm bill expires Sept. 30.