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Farm Bill Clears Senate


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Senate Clears Farm Bill


WASHINGTON—The Senate on Thursday approved a new five-year farm bill to overhaul the way the government subsidizes agricultural production, cutting billions of dollars in spending and shifting aid to crop-insurance programs.

The bill, which passed with a 64-35 vote, contains about $23.6 billion dollars in spending cuts over a 10-year period on crop subsidies and other government programs, paving the way for the House of Representatives to take up its own version of the legislation.

The five-year Senate bill, if signed into law, would tear down a 20-year-old direct-payment subsidy program that pays roughly $5 billion a year to farmland owners even if they aren't planting crops and expands government crop insurance.

Crop subsidies are expected to be cut by about $19.5 billion over 10 years under the legislation, but government payments to help farmers cover insurance premiums and subsidize crop-insurance companies would increase by about $3.2 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

About $4.5 billion in food-stamp reductions in the Senate bill angered some Democrats, but fiscal conservatives said the cuts didn't go deep enough. The farm bill contains about $80 billion of spending a year for food stamps and other nutrition programs for the needy. Most of the proposed cut of $4.5 billion comes from eliminating a loophole in which households that receive state assistance to cover heating bills become eligible to receive additional food-stamp aid.

Senators approved an amendment to the bill Tuesday that would put a $75,000 cap on payments farmers can receive from the Loan Deficiency Payment Program, an income-support program. Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said the measure would prevent wealthy farmers from collecting subsidies tied to marketing loans given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Senate passage frees up the House to complete its own version of the bill, which is expected to be more friendly to Southern peanut and rice farmers, who have complained the Senate bill takes away too much of the government support they have come to rely upon.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, who is scheduled to present his version of the next farm bill to panel members for a vote July 11, said in a recent interview that the legislation must be fair to all farming regions in the U.S.

"The one-size-fits-all approach...just won't work," Mr. Lucas said.

Mr. Lucas also said the House farm bill likely would contain as much as $33 billion in spending cuts, $10 billion more than in the Senate version, although he didn't give details.


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whay's the answer? Do you cut all farm subsidies? It is a government hand out affecting the free market system

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