Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Tuesday became the highest-ranking House Democrat to come out against the 2012 farm bill.
Clyburn, the third-ranking member of the caucus, joined a liberal press conference to denounce the farm bill, which will be marked up in the Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. The legislation represents a compromise between Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
Clyburn called the bill an "abomination" because it contains $16 billion in cuts to food stamps. He also criticized it for being too generous to agribusiness.
"We should not set ourselves up as protectors of the wealthy, which seems to be what we are doing in this farm bill," he said.
The farm bill does away with direct farm payments and other subsidies but sets up a $9.5 billion crop insurance and price support system to help farmers who are losing their current subsidies.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have not joined the liberal wing of the caucus in denouncing the bill, although they have said they are concerned about the food stamp cuts. The top leaders have also praised Peterson for moving a farm bill forward.
Peterson has said he expects the Senate to strip out most of the food stamp cuts and that he has acted strategically to move the farm bill since current programs are set to expire Sept. 30.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said at the press conference she believes enough liberals will oppose the farm bill to keep it from coming to the floor with the current level of cuts.