Senate votes to end debate on $956 billion farm bill

Feb. 3, 2014 at 7:25 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Monday voted 72-22 to end debate on a five-year, $956 billion farm bill passed by the House last week, with passage expected Tuesday.

The House passed the bill Wednesday by a vote of 251-166, and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as the Senate passes it.

The majority of the bill's spending -- $756 billion -- is for the federal food stamp program -- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- and much of the Democratic opposition is because of the $8 billion cut to it.

The original House proposal would have hacked $39 billion from food stamps while the Senate-passed bill included a $4 billion cut to the program.

The bill would pick up $8.6 billion in savings by requiring households to receive at least $20 per year in home heating assistance before automatically qualifying for food stamps, up from the $1 threshold in place in some states.

Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and others said last week the bill would extend what they characterized as an already generous crop insurance program while ending direct payments to farmers, which made payments to farmers regardless of crop prices and in some cases to farmers who grew nothing.

"Rather than looking at another $8.6 billion in cuts to the nutrition title, on top of previous cuts that have already been had, let's look at some of these subsidy programs," Kind said. "I'm afraid that the bill before us today maintains huge taxpayer subsidies that go to a few but very large agribusinesses, at the expense of our family farmers around the country."

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