The Senate has passed, in a 64-35 vote, a new five-year farm bill to overhaul the way the government subsidizes agricultural production in the U.S. The bill contains about $23.6 billion dollars in spending cuts over a 10 year period on crop subsidies and other government programs. The bill cuts farm subsidies and land conservation spending by about $2 billion a year.
If signed into law, the Senate version of the bill would expand government crop insurance, but take 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. Crop subsidies are projected to be cut by about $19.5 billion over 10 years under the legislation, but government payments to help farmers pay for insurance premiums and subsidize crop-insurance companies would increase by about $3.2 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The Senate’s version of the Farm Bill also makes about $4.5 billion dollars in food-stamp cuts. The bill contains about $80 billion of spending per year for food stamps and other nutrition programs. Senator Debbie Stabenow has made it clear that 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.
The Senate’s action paves the way for the House of Representatives to take up the House Agriculture Committee’s own version of the legislation.