In a rare moment of unity, 90 U.S. senators voted Thursday to bring the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 to the floor for a vote.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said the bill saves $23 billion by ending needless subsidies to farmers. At the same time, she said, the measure helps the agricultural sector.
"This bill has garnered widespread praise from hundreds of farm, food and conservation organizations for its common sense reforms, deficit reduction, and investments in our economic future," Stabenow said. "The 2008 Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September -- we must pass this commonsense bill immediately to give farmers the certainty they need to continue growing the economy. Sixteen million American jobs rely on agriculture. The time for reform is now."
The Senate voted 90-8, giving the bill far more than the 60 votes needed to advance.
The bill ends four subsidy programs, including direct payments to farmers, and Stabenow said it means in the future, farmers will only get government aid if prices drop. It also aims at cracking down on fraud in food assistance benefits.
The White House Office of Management and Budget praised the bill for preserving a safety net for farmers while cutting subsidies.