White House supports Senate farm bill; calls for more subsidy cuts

The White House on Monday said it supports passage of the $955 billion Senate farm bill, while calling for deeper cuts to subsidy programs.

The farm bill, which came to the Senate floor on Monday, cuts less from farm subsidies than President Obama would like, while cutting more from food stamps.

“The administration supports Senate passage of S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, and looks forward to working with the Congress to address the important concerns described below prior to final passage,” an official statement of administration policy reads.

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The Obama budget for 2014 called for $37.8 billion in cuts to farm subsidies and conservation programs over 10 years. The Senate farm bill has $24.4 billion in total cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but $4 billion in cuts comes from the food stamp program, a move that has sparked opposition from many Democrats.

“Consistent with the President's budget, the administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings that are not contained in S. 954,” the White House statement says.

On food stamps, the statement says “the Administration also strongly supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation's food assistance safety net, which is why it was not subject to cuts in the President's budget.”

The Senate farm bill’s food stamp cuts pale in comparison to the $20.5 billion in cuts in the House farm bill and the more than $130 billion in cuts called for in the House 2014 budget.

While Obama and the Senate Agriculture Committee envision eliminating direct farm payments, the Senate bill expands crop insurance and pays for new and more generous price and revenue-triggered safety net programs.

The White House statement praised the Senate for tying environmental compliance to crop insurance, for supporting biofuels and for tightening payment limits and eligibility requirements for farm subsidies.