By Ramsey Cox
The Senate began considering a $955 billion five-year farm bill Monday. The Senate isn’t expecting to finish work on the bill this week, but it will start the process until the immigration bill is ready.
S. 954 would cut more than $23 billion from current spending levels over 10 years, but some Republicans have noted with a similar bill last year, that this cut is from post-stimulus levels. It also cuts $4 billion in food stamps, which has led to some Democratic opposition.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) praised the Senate farm bill Monday, saying the Senate cuts to SNAP wouldn’t remove a “single needy family” from the program. She argued it just ends abuses of the program. She added that her bill is really a jobs bill.
“This is a very important bill for the 16 million Americans whose jobs rely on a strong agriculture economy,” Stabenow said. “The farm bill really is a jobs bill, a trade bill, a reforms bill, a conservation bill, and a kitchen table bill.
“This is a bill that reflects our best values as Americans.”
The bipartisan bill cuts spending by consolidating duplicative programs and reducing some abuse and fraud in the crop insurance and food assistance programs.
“Conservation programs have been streamlined and consolidated … and the bill eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in the supplemental assistance program,” Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said. “I think we have produced a responsible and fair bill.”
Last year’s farm bill passed on a 64-35 vote, but the House failed to take up their own farm bill.
“Last year we passed a strong bipartisan farm bill,” Stabenow said. “We stood up for families all across the country who had hit hard times. … The House did not follow our lead.”
The House is expected to bring its bill to the floor in June.