In another outburst of things actually getting done on Capitol Hill, House and Senate negotiators have rolled out a bipartisan farm bill—only two years overdue. The nearly $1 trillion, five-year bill cuts federal spending by around $23 billion, including about $8 billion from the food stamp program.
- The bill will be voted on in the House tomorrow but it's not clear when it will reach the Senate. The New York Times predicts that the food stamps measure could be a problem both for Senate Democrats, who approved a cut half the size last year, and for House conservatives, who initially approved a whopping $39 billion food stamp cut.
- The AP details the changes to subsidies, which will remain generous, although direct payments paid whether farmers actually farm or not will end, saving around $4.5 billion a year. There will be more money for crop insurance programs, but the money an individual farmer can receive on all federal payments and loans will be capped at $125,000.
- Farm lobbyists are broadly in favor of the bill, the Hill finds, but meat and poultry lobbyists will oppose it because two key priorities were not added, including a measure to ditch new country-of-origin labeling rules.
- Anti-hunger groups are also firmly opposed to the bill because of the food stamp cuts. "They are gutting a program to provide food for hungry people to pay for corporate welfare," fumed the chief of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
- Buried deep in the bill is a provision that will please marijuana legalization advocates, the Washington Post reports. For the first time, colleges and universities will be allowed to grow hemp for research purposes, at least in the 11 states that allow cultivation of the plant.
(Read more farm bill