Senate panel approves five-year farm bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday approved a new five-year farm bill over the objections of southern senators in a 16 to 5 final vote.

Southern Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted against it. The rice and peanut lobbies strongly oppose the farm subsidy changes in the bill arguing that it leaves their producers without a safety net.

{mosads}Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also voted against the bill after expressing concerns about cuts to food stamp funding in the legislation.

Overall the bill cuts $24.7 billion in funding over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It eliminates traditional direct payment farm subsidies and creates new crop insurance plans to reduce risk to farmers.

A Wednesday farm bill markup had been postponed at the last minute but the bill was back on track after changes to its energy section pushed by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Democratic aides say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has committed to bringing the farm bill to the floor even if House leaders stall on it. The current farm bill runs out in September but opposition by fiscal conservatives in the House could stall action there.

Tags Harry Reid John Boozman Kirsten Gillibrand Mitch McConnell Saxby Chambliss Thad Cochran
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