Senate passes trillion dollar farm bill
The Senate passed a massive farm bill that will cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years, with a token $24 billion "cut" from President Obama's request.
"The Senate today voted to support 16 million American jobs, to save taxpayers billions and to implement the most significant reforms to agriculture programs in decades," said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She was a co-author of the bill with Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the ranking Republican on the committee.
The Senate bill would cut $24 billion from current spending levels, including about $4.1 billion from food stamps over the next 10 years. Groups fighting hunger said the cuts in food stamps would put millions of poor families at risk. A House version of the bill would provide for food stamp cuts of $20 billion, just one major example of how far apart the two houses are in adjusting spending.
In the House, the farm bill faces a much tougher road. Last year, conservative lawmakers helped kill the bill because of their desire for deeper cuts in the food stamp program, which serves about 45 million Americans.
Hoping to satisfy conservatives, the House Agriculture Committee recently increased the amount of cuts to the program to the $20 billion mark over the next 10 years, up from $16 billion in last year's bill. In a statement before the Senate vote, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said the House would begin work on its version of the farm bill this month.
Conservation programs that help protect farmland and waters would be cut by about $3.5 billion in the Senate bill, with additional reductions coming from the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
Left in place, a $1.6 billion foreign food aid program and subsidies for rice and peanut growers. The foreign food aid program is a massive waste of taxpayer money. We buy food in the US and ship it thousands of miles instead of buying food locally (where it is much cheaper) and shipping it a few miles to those who need it. And while subsidies for some crops have been dropped, southern Republicans maintained payments to rice and peanut farmers.
As far as SNAP, or the food stamp program, the Senate will never go for $20 billion in cuts and the House probably won't go for much less. SNAP cuts will probably be a deal killer and the 2008 Farm Bill will expire on September 30, leaving a lot of agriculture workers and farmers in limbo.