Nebraska's two senators have been quiet—you might even say sneaky—about inserting a provision to help popcorn growers into the new farm bill. Both are on the Agriculture Committee, and they slid a provision into the bill saying that the Agriculture secretary "may" consider revenue insurance subsidies for popcorn. Then in May, they added a "technical correction" to the bill, changing "may" to "shall." Now, neither will talk to Politico about it. "I don't think this is a Nebraska-specific issue," says Mike Johanns.
But you know who's always eager to talk about obscure and potentially humorous spending provisions? John McCain, who is fighting to kill the provision. "The popcorn carve-out is a perfect example of farm bill politics," McCain declared yesterday. But popcorn producers say they're just trying to preserve what they had under the old subsidy system the new farm bill is eliminating; it treated their crop like field corn. "Why would McCain care about something that is discretionary for a small industry?" laments one industry exec.