House Passes Farm Bill now on to the Senate

 

Farm Bill passes in the House. Now on to the Senate with the President expected to sign it in about a week.
Farm Bill passes in the House. Now on to the Senate with the President expected to sign it in about a week.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly $1 trillion farm bill on Wednesday that cuts food stamps and ends a costly direct subsidy to farmers, while expanding government-backed crop insurance programs.

The Senate is expected to vote as early as next week on the sprawling legislation, which is more than a year overdue. The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees have said they expect President Barack Obama will sign the bill.

The  vote was 251-166  and the measure had solid backing from the House GOP leadership, even though it makes smaller cuts to food stamps than they would have liked. The bill would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year program, or around 1 percent. The House had sought a 5 percent cut.

The legislation would continue to heavily subsidize major crops while eliminating some subsidies and shifting them toward more politically defensible insurance programs.

The plan, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cut spending by $16.6 billion over 10 years from current levels, reflects the clout of rural and urban allies who succeeded in keeping farm subsidies and nutrition programs together over Republican objections. Supporters said the bipartisan bill showed political differences can be bridged. Opponents said the bill was rushed to a vote to avoid criticism about its cost.

Here are the details according to Bloomberg News -The bill governs farm subsidies, which encourages planting of soybeans, cotton and other crops by lowering costs for commodity processors including Bunge Ltd. The legislation subsidizes crop-insurance provided by companies such as Ace Ltd. (ACE) and funds purchases at Kroger Co. (KR) and other grocers with food stamps, its biggest cost.

The legislation would cut food-stamp spending by $8.6 billion over 10 years, though additions to other programs bring nutrition-aid cuts down to $8 billion — one-fifth of the $40 billion sought by Republicans and fought by Democrats and food retailers.

Total savings would be $23 billion over 10 years, higher than the budget-office estimate, after automatic cuts in all federal spending tied to an earlier budget deal are included, according to agriculture committee staff.

Crop-growers facing loss of $50 billion in subsidies retained about two-thirds of it through other aid, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Conservation initiatives would lose $6 billion, largely through consolidation of existing programs. Crop insurers that paid out $17 billion after the severe 2012 were largely unscathed.

The bill ends the possibility, for at least five years, of U.S. farm policies reverting to a 1949 law that would potentially double milk prices.

SHARE
Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved with Berman Concerts and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.