Senate set to pass half-trillion dollar farm bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is poised to pass a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill today that would expand government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts in the food stamp program.

The bill, which costs almost $100 billion annually, also would eliminate subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. All told, it would save about $2.4 billion a year on the farm and nutrition programs, including across-the-board cuts that took effect earlier this year.

Pointing to those cuts, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says the legislation is the "most reform-minded farm bill in decades." But it would still generously subsidize corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sugar and other major crops grown by U.S. farmers. It would also set policy for programs to protect environmentally sensitive land, international food aid and other projects to help rural communities.

The Senate passed a similar farm bill last year on a bipartisan 64-35 vote.

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