The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling. President Obama previously indicated he would sign the $956 billion measure. The House passed it Jan. 29.
More on the farm bill:
Direct payments to farmers – fixed government payments that don’t take crop performance or planting into account – were controversial. They cost about $4.5 billion annually, and were sometimes referred to derisively as “welfare for farmers.” The new farm bill would channel most of that money toward expanding the government-subsidized crop insurance program.
Cuts to the SNAP budget proved the most divisive element of drafting a new farm bill. House Republicans had wanted $40 billion in cuts over ten years. Senate Democrats advocated for $4 billion. The compromise legislation drawn up by the conference committee charged with negotiating the differences between House and Senate bills includes cuts to the program’s budget of about $8 billion over ten years.
The farm bill also makes significant changes to conservation policy, dairy policy and includes expanded safety net programs for livestock industries.