WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP)-The Senate on Monday passed a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that expands government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts to food stamps.
The bill passed on a bipartisan 66-27 vote. The legislation, which costs almost $100 billion annually, also would eliminate subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. All told, it would save about $2.4 billion a year on the farm and nutrition programs, including across-the-board cuts that took effect earlier this year.
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the bill would support 16 million American jobs, save taxpayers billions and put into place "the most significant reforms to agriculture programs in decades." But it would still generously subsidize corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sugar and other major crops grown by U.S. growers.
The legislation would also set policy for programs to protect environmentally sensitive land, international food aid and other projects to help rural communities. The Senate passed a similar farm bill last year.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Monday that his chamber will take up its version of the farm bill this month. Debate in the House is expected to be contentious and much more partisan than in the Senate, with disagreements among the GOP caucus over domestic food aid that makes up almost 80 percent of the bill's cost.
SOURCE: USA Today