APHouse Speaker John Boehner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, at right, at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Tuesday.
By Eric Beech

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive farm bill on Wednesday that cuts payments for food stamps by about 1 percent and ends a direct subsidy to farmers, while expanding government-backed crop insurance programs.

After months of negotiations and criticism from both sides of the political spectrum the measure passed easily, by 251 votes to 166, with 162 Republicans joining 89 Democrats in favor. The bill, which is supposed to be passed every five years, is more than a year overdue after congressional negotiators struggled to forge a compromise.

A vote in the Democratic-run Senate could come as early as Thursday and the bill is expected to pass, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow told reporters Wednesday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama would sign the legislation.

The wide-ranging legislation affects about 16 million jobs in the country's agricultural sector and can have an impact on the business landscape for major agricultural companies.

"This bill eliminates unnecessary subsidies,
creates a more effective farm safety-net and strengthens our commitment to conservation of land and water," Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said in a statement.

Stabenow was on the House floor Wednesday and was seen hugging some members on the House floor after the vote.

The agriculture committees say the bill will save about $23 billion over 10 years, compared with current funding -- less than many conservative Republicans had hoped for. The Congressional Budget Office, using a different measurement, has estimated savings of $16.6 billion over a decade.

"All Americans stand to benefit in some way from this farm bill," House Speaker John Boehner said after the vote. "This is an improvement over current law, and there are no earmarks."

About $8 billion in savings over 10 years comes from cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. That was well below the $40 billion cut advocated by the Republican-led House, which would have been the largest reduction in a generation, but it was still double the amount originally supported by Senate Democrats.

Liberal lawmakers decried the cut of about 1 percent to the safety net program, which goes to about 47 million low-income people to buy food and accounts for more than three-quarters of the farm bill's spending.

"This bill will make hunger worse in America," Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said on the House floor.

Conservative Pressure

With congressional elections looming in November, Obama has highlighted social safety-net programs such as food stamps and unemployment insurance as a way to combat the widening income gap in the United States.

Conservative pressure groups Heritage Action and Club for Growth said the bill was too expensive and had urged a "no" vote. The groups said they would include the results in their scorecards of members' voting records for 2014.

The last farm bill, which passed in 2008, expired in September after being extended for one year while negotiators ironed out differences between measures approved in the House and Senate.

The legislation ends so-called direct payment subsidies, which for years have been doled out to farmers and landowners -- to the tune of some $5 billion a year -- regardless of whether there is a need for support and whether they actually grew crops.

Instead, agriculture insurance programs would be expanded to help producers manage risk. The bill also would establish permanent disaster assistance for livestock producers.

"We are particularly pleased with provisions to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters," the American Farm Bureau Federation said in a statement.



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12 Comments

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alfredschrader

Rib Eye steak is $3.99 a pound. Raisin Bran is $4.19 for the 16 ounce (one pound) box. Why ?
Why does 25 cents and 50 cents worth of raisins cost $4.19 ?
Why is cereal more expensive than steak ? Milk is $4.29 a gallon. Combined cost is $8.48
So a bowl of cereal with milk costs $2.00 while Pork chops are $1.99 a pound. Why does a bowl of cereal cost more than two thick pork chops ?

January 30 2014 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MAC

reckon if anything was really cut out....i did not see any examples.

January 30 2014 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

The 'Farm' bill really should be renamed. It has little to do with farmers and they recieve only a small percentage of the billions appropiated. The bills purpose is to serve large multinational business' by insure cheep raw materials for their production and to feed all those who either can not afford or are to lazy to feed themselves. On of the posts below had me laughing where it sais perhaps farmers could use some of that land the weren't using to grow some of their own food. Poor people used to do that, but now they just go to the government and get free food. Just like the "Affordable" Care Act the Farm Bill has little to do with what it's name implies.

January 30 2014 at 3:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crrunch

Why don't they list, in plain english, ALL the other add-ons to this bill. I'll bet there'd be a lot of head spinning.

January 30 2014 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Donna Hart

If farmers get money for not farming, couldn't they use a little of their land and knowledge of growing things to grow some of their own food?

January 30 2014 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tinybug66

So does that mean that Bachmann loses her gov't handouts for her farm? I hope so, dhe doesn't deserve them.

January 30 2014 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
larry

many farmers with acres and acres of land are paid to NOT to grow anything on their land as to manipulate the prices on the market. I know of two farmers that were paid thousands of dollars to NOT grow wheat or potatoes for over 15 years.

January 30 2014 at 12:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to larry's comment
mike

farmer talk trash, but when the goverment tells then ill pay mobey for you not to grow anythimh then the farmers jump right on that goverment bandwagon

January 30 2014 at 1:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
moontrade

The major reason the government pays farmers not to farm is because of soil conservation (silt/contaminant runoff into watersheds). Farmers paid not to farm reserve acreage, usually for 10-15 years, plant their fields with groundcover instead of crops, to limit errosional effects. The after-effect is 10-15 years of more habitat for wildlife - to the tune of some 30 million additional acres for bambi and butterfies to play. Farmers practice husbandry, not only of animals, but of the land itself . Of course, we could always let The Gub'ment take over the job, but what would That cost be?.....

January 30 2014 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
frankc1932

How about cutting some of the perks the congress and house is getting and raise subsidities for food stamps..Yes I know my spelling is bad but so is government today .. Lets just vote all of the old cronies out and get new blood in there..They have been in power much too long..Now is the time for change.. Yes and get rid of Obama too.He has brought the United States down.. How much will it cost people when they cant afford the insurance..

January 30 2014 at 12:34 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to frankc1932's comment
CherMoeLin

The U.S. WAS DOWN ... as low as it could go without falling off the cliff ... when Obama took over. WITH NO HELP FROM REPUBLICANS he pulled us back from the precipice and we have SLOWLY moved forward. Republicans promised JOBS in 2010 when they campaigned. They haven't produced any. The stock market has been at all time highs. I'd say the President has done a decent job considering he had NOTHING (because of Republican obstruction) to work with. BUSH forced the MANDATORY Prescription Drug plan ... you people didn't say "boo!" WHY IS THAT? Study up on your recent history, turn off Faux "news" and get the facts rather than "hate radio" with Rush Limbaugh. You might gain an education on what's REALLY going on here in America.

January 30 2014 at 2:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
calderasf

Wow, we stopped to pay people who are not farming! In San francisco there are people getting gov't subsidies when they haven't gotten close to a farm in years!

January 30 2014 at 12:05 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
JERRY

Cutting off food to the poor is a bad idea for any Country, but for America the richest Country in the World to do this is a crime! WE need to VOTE out this Congress and replace it with people that represent people that can not help themselves. Sociopaths are easy to spot in Congress...and easier to find on the Voters ballot....Send the message with your vote...let us get rid of the Greed and Lobists in OUR Government!

January 30 2014 at 11:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply